Bangor University opens the first nuclear research institute in Wales

The first nuclear research institute in Wales has opened at Bangor University.  The Nuclear Futures Institute has been established with funding from the Welsh Government’s Sêr Cymru programme, which is helping to attract world leading researchers to Wales, with funding also coming from the European Regional Development Fund and from the University.

In line with the Sêr Cymru programme’s ambition to attract world leading researchers to Wales, this £6.5m programme will fund two new research centres in the newly established Nuclear Futures Institute.  These will be led by distinguished and internationally renowned research leaders specialising in two key areas for the nuclear sector.  Prof. Bill Lee joins from Imperial College London, brings a wealth of expertise in Materials Sciences and in particular its application in extreme environments such as in nuclear reactor technologies and aerospace.  The second area of expertise is in sensitivity analysis and predictive modelling of complex systems to address challenges such as those found in the nuclear sector and environmental systems.  The University is in advanced discussions to secure one of the world’s foremost specialists in this area with experience of leading research groups across the world in academic and industrial arenas.

The Sêr Cymru programme will also enable the University to build teams around the Sêr Cymru stars and establish Bangor University as a new centre of excellence in the UK.

This investment is already playing a key role in attracting long term private sector strategic investment and high-value jobs in the nuclear sector to North Wales, and also supports the development of Bangor University’s low carbon energy science park, M-SParc Ltd by helping to attract supply chain companies within the nuclear industry.

Bangor University’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor John G. Hughes welcomed the establishment of the new Institute:

“As new nuclear technologies are introduced to the UK and elsewhere in the world, significant research effort is required to understand and ensure the optimal design and deployment of those new technologies.

Bangor University’s computational expertise will be used to create an institute that will make north Wales a global centre in predictive modelling and materials in the nuclear sector and complement the experimental research being undertaken elsewhere in the UK.”

The launch of the Nuclear Futures Institute comes shortly after the UK Government announcement that Bangor University has been chosen to lead a Science and Innovation Audit of the North West Nuclear Arc Consortium and follows on from last year’s launch of the Boiling Water Reactor Research Hub and Network.  This is a joint venture with Imperial College, London, with support from Hitachi-GE Nuclear and the Welsh Government.

In addition, a wider network of relationships with key public and private sector groups are being developed and has already led to Memoranda of Understanding being signed with Horizon Nuclear Power, Hitachi-GE Nuclear Energy, Imperial College London and further supply-chain collaborations are in development.    The University and its partners are committed to working closely together in future years to bring lasting local benefits in research, innovation and job creation.

Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Transport Ken Skates said: “The nuclear sector is strategically important for Wales, providing low carbon energy for homes and businesses while also offering job opportunities in a highly skilled industry. The Welsh Government is committed to developing a suitably skilled workforce for the nuclear sector, and my officials have already been working closely with industry as this Strategic Plan has been developed.”

The Nuclear Futures Institute is an important element within the overall body of energy related research activity at Bangor University, and will ultimately be located within the proposed new Science and Technology Quarter, which forms a central part of Bangor University’s Estates Strategy in the city.

Professor Jo Rycroft-Malone, PVC for Research at Bangor University said: “We are very excited about the potential that the Nuclear Futures Institute will offer for the University, our future students, and also to businesses active in the nuclear and other energy-related areas who are being increasingly attracted to North Wales. We also will be launching degree programmes which will meet regional needs within Wales and in the wider UK energy sector and will be highly relevant to other advanced manufacturing industries.”

Publication date: 16 November 2017