Here at the R&D UK Centre we're always looking for ways to be innovative. A great example of this is the Waste and Decommissioning R&D programme. It was developed to further our understanding of the UK’s Advanced Gas-cooled Reactor (AGR) decommissioning programme. We will deliver the tools and techniques that support engineering solutions in four key areas including defuelling and waste management. To deliver value, the focus will be on the development of technology within the strategic themes of robotics, instrumentation & characterisation, modelling & simulation and digital solutions.
During the past 6 months, the R&D programme has seen a change in management, with an experienced R&D programme manager being employed by the R&D UK Centre, who has taken over the overall management and strategic direction of the programme. Under the leadership of the UK R&D Centre, a new well-structured approach to the programme has been adopted offering a step-change in the level of ambition and planned technical delivery. As part of this new method, a technically ambitious programme scope has been submitted for £1.2M of funding.
Looking towards the future, the strategy will be a move towards greater collaboration with academic and other research institutions within the UK. Establishing collaborative networks will be a key part of the R&D strategy ensuring the right experts, resources and key national facilities are available and utilised in order to drive forward waste & decommissioning technology. To this end, EDF manages several strategic partnerships with UK universities which include the Universities of Strathclyde, Manchester and Bristol. These universities are host to a range of specialised and nuclear-dedicated facilities such as the National Nuclear User Facility in Robotics, the Modelling & Simulation Centre and the Advanced Nuclear Research Centre. The W&D R&D programme is now interfacing with each of these so that they can be leveraged to provide an enhanced capability for EDF to deliver value-driven R&D to the waste & decommissioning business. Likewise, UK research institutions are also taking a similar strategic shift in the support that they can offer the nuclear industry.
In addition to this, there will be future links and collaborative networks formed with supply chain partners, other UK nuclear-licenced sites as well as strengthening the interactions with other aspects of the EDF Group such as those within EDF France. Within the UK there is a national strategy being developed for nuclear decommissioning and the activities carried out by the UK R&D programme will align to the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority’s (NDA) Grand Challenges, which include moving humans away from harm, reshaping the waste hierarchy, intelligent infrastructure and enabling digital solutions. This ensures that EDF is a key player in supporting the overall UK decommissioning R&D strategy.