Materials for Nuclear Energy and Extreme Environments

Nuclear environments represent some of the most challenging conditions that engineered materials must endure.

This group marries both experimental and theoretical materials science in order to solve key challenges within the nuclear industry.

By gathering academics with exceptional industrial experience and knowledge ranging from waste-form management and decommissioning, to nuclear fuel design and operation, including licensing and regulation, the group aims to be industrially relevant, delivering high impact solutions within the sector.

The following academics make up the group:

  • Prof. Bill Lee FREng – Group leader – studies the relationship between processing, properties and microstructure in a broad range of ceramics including waste-forms, nuclear components and materials exposed to extreme environments (including aerospace and defence). Bill has published over 450 peer reviewed papers and has been awarded over £65 million in research grants.
  • Dr. Simon Middleburgh – senior lecturer with a background in nuclear fuel development and material performance modelling in extreme environments. Simon has worked at ANSTO (Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation) where he was a research leader of a group focused on bridging materials modelling methods with experimental investigations. Subsequently, Simon worked at Westinghouse Electric Company where he focused on applying materials modelling methods and experimental methods to investigate new fuels (including so-called accident tolerant fuels – ATF) and improve fuel performance modelling.
  • Dr. Michael Rushton – appointed senior lecturer at Bangor University in 2017. His research interests lie in applying atomic scale simulation methods of particular relevance to actinides oxides over wide temperature ranges, waste-forms (including ceramics and glasses) and most recently has been involved in research into high dose spent adsorbents used in the treatment of water during the clean-up at Fukushima Daiichi.

The group also has a number of post-doctoral fellows including:

  • Dr. Iuliia Ipatova – experimental researcher with unique experience investigating radioactive materials in academia, industry and national laboratory locations. Her research covers a wide range of materials from thermo-electric generators for space applications to waste-forms and fusion materials. She is currently investigating a number of novel material systems including High Entropy Alloy (HEAs) and ceramic-composite components using advanced manufacturing methods.

Research interests:

  • Materials modelling
    • Fuel performance modelling
    • Density functional theory modelling of disordered materials
    • Classical potential method development and application
    • Neutronic modelling
    • Meso-scale modelling
  • Manufacturing and characterisation of advanced materials
    • Ultra-high temperature ceramic manufacture
    • Nuclear fuel surrogate investigations for improved fuel performance
    • New alloy development (including Zr alloys and high entropy alloys)
    • Fuel-cladding interactions
    • Targeted waste-form development
    • Bespoke component manufacture