The University of Strathclyde and Babcock are to lead an industrial partnership worth £4.2m with the aim of making nuclear assets safer and more reliable.
The programme will reportedly develop advanced inspection techniques, biotechnology solutions for infrastructure repair, operational intelligence and data science, and new products and processes for managing nuclear power facilities and extending their lifetime.
It forms part of a £138m investment in research-business partnerships announced by the UK government and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).
For the Strathclyde-led project, EPSRC is providing £2.1m of funding for the five-year programme, with university and industrial partners providing a total of £2.315m.
The project also involves: Babcock EDF Energy; Kinectrics Inc; Bruce Power; The Weir Group; BAM Nuttall; Imperial College London; the University of Surrey; Cranfield University, and the Alan Turing Institute.
Professor Stephen McArthur, deputy associate principal at Strathclyde, is leading the research. He explained: “This Prosperity Partnership will establish a nationally significant research programme to increase capability and multidisciplinary expertise, focused on enhanced through-life nuclear asset management.
“This is clearly aligned with the industrial partners’ common strategic aims of safe, reliable, and efficient delivery of output; nuclear waste monitoring and disposal; mitigation of operational risk and creation of new, stronger nuclear products and processes.
“Through the Prosperity Partnership, the university and industrial partners aim to enhance industry’s ability to maintain successfully existing nuclear power stations and naval assets, and deliver the next generation of these assets in a sustainable and economically feasible manner.”
Babcock’s managing director of technology, Jon Hall commented: “Outcomes from this programme should help maintain existing nuclear and naval facilities, and ensure lifetime performance improvements for the next generations.
“This is an exciting opportunity for us all. By committing to this important research work we are supporting an initiative that will benefit our country’s technological and economic future for years to come.”
Strathclyde is also sharing in an EPSRC investment of £60m for 33 universities to advance their Impact Acceleration Accounts (IAA). These reportedly offer institutions the flexibility to operate tailored schemes that help increase the likelihood of impact from their research. The IAAs speed up the contribution that scientists make towards new innovation, successful businesses and the economic returns that benefit the UK.
Strathclyde’s IAA, which was opened in 2012, aims to make a permanent improvement in delivering impact from the university’s research by engaging businesses and organisations in the development of the research, with the aim of addressing global challenges.
Chief executive of EPSRC, Professor Philip Nelson noted: “If innovation is an ecosystem then it is dependent on having a fertile soil of research and the fresh air of ideas to nourish its growth.
“These new EPSRC Prosperity Partnerships and IAA investments will provide the right conditions in which new technologies and products can be developed more quickly. In turn, this will return social and economic benefits and ensure the UK continues to be one of the best places in the world to research, innovate and grow business.”