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Construction of a new dedicated Active Materials Building at Diamond has recently commenced. The new facility, which is anticipated to open to Users in 2021, will provide space for radioactive materials research.
The Active Materials Building will enable the preparation of radioactive samples, enhancing support for its user community and advancing the wide range of research into ‘active’ materials.
Diamond already offers analytical instruments for active materials research, however, this new facility will significantly improve the capabilities for researchers, ranging from those involved in construction materials for nuclear energy facilities, to those involved in waste remediation.
The new facility will have both wet and dry laboratories equipped for handling a wide range of active materials. There will also be a counting room for active materials to be characterised and secure storage as appropriate.
Additionally, it will provide Users with the flexibility to prepare samples on site, enabling them to perform experiments that were previously impossible in the UK. It is hoped that these will provide valuable scientific evidence and help inform policy and decision-making around nuclear legacy and future commitments.
Principal Beamline Scientist, Professor Fred Mosselmans, said:
Currently we only have the capability to prepare samples with very low activity on-site. This makes it hard for our user community to adjust their experiments. The new facility will transform what our user community can do as they will not need to go back and forth between their home university laboratories to reload their sample cells or reprocess their samples.
Increased knowledge of active materials is essential for the community as it may concern how materials behave under radiation, such as engineering materials used in nuclear power stations. The UK is currently embarking on a new nuclear build programme, which will require advanced materials development and work on new fuels.
Professor Sam Shaw, at the University of Manchester, said:
Understanding structural change in materials due to operation and radiation damage is a major challenge for the nuclear industry and the academics working in this field. Scientific research is essential to provide evidence to aid decision-making. For instance, when reviewing ageing infrastructure and making a judgement on their lifetime or when designing brand new nuclear facilities.
Other important aspects of research that will be undertaken are to ensure safe storage of active materials and understanding interactions with the environment as old sites are decommissioned as part of the UK's nuclear legacy.
There are currently around 30 ‘active’ experiments at Diamond per year, with researchers from the Universities of Manchester, Bristol and Sheffield conducting much of the active materials research on site. The availability of the new laboratory will mean some users who currently study inactive samples will be able to become active material synchrotron users, for example groups from the materials department at the University of Oxford and other key researchers across the UK.
Prof. Mosselmans, said:
The impact of prolonged radiation on the mechanical performance of a range of materials such as graphite and Zircaloy used in fission and fusion facilities will be of great interest to our user community. Similarly, understanding the corrosion impact of radionuclide behaviour in encapsulated nuclear waste is essential to model and understand the future performance of the UK's proposed geological disposal facility; to do so requires intimate knowledge of the interaction of radionuclides with the materials used in the construction of the facility.
The build phase is due to be completed by the end of June 2021 and it is anticipated the first Users will be welcomed to the facility in September 2021.
If you have any questions about the project please contact Fred Mosselmans - firstname.lastname@example.org
The Active Materials Building will be an associated facility of the National Nuclear User Facility (NNUF). To learn more about the NNUF, please visit their website.
Diamond Light Source is the UK's national synchrotron science facility, located at the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus in Oxfordshire.
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