Nuclear Graphite


Nuclear Graphite Research is based in the School of Mechanical, Aerospace and Civil Engineering (MACE) at the University of Manchester and is an integral part of the cross-school Materials Performance Centre. The Group was formed with the aim of building up a strong research activity at the University of Manchester on nuclear graphite technology so as to develop expertise that can be used to provide independent advice and research to both national and international nuclear organizations and companies.

An understanding of irradiated damage processes in nuclear graphite involves using microstructural and analytical techniques such as Scanning and Transmission Electron Microscopy, Raman spectroscopy, X-ray Diffraction, and X-ray Tomography with validation through modelling both the isotopic inventory and materials properties, in order to understand structure/property relationships. The Nuclear Graphite Research Group (NGRG) specialises in irradiated graphite characterisation and new treatments in order to reduce the isotopic volume, including developing new technologies for the treatment, handling and disposal of irradiated graphite with emphasis on radioisotopic content, location, mechanism and structural integrity of the final waste form, our research contributions identified areas include: Graphite, Radionuclides behaviour and Gas research.

Selected Current Projects


Funding Body: FP7 - Euroatom

Dr. Abbie Jones

Dr Abbie Jones is a lecturer in Nuclear Engineering Decommissioning and is a major partner in the EU CARBOWASTE program (2008 - 2012), this €6M grant proposal entitled ‘Treatment and Disposal of Irradiated Graphite and Other Carbonaceous Waste’ (CARBOWASTE - Grant No. 211333) contains over 28 European partners from both industrial and research collaborators. This project funds a lecturer, PDRA and PhD and EngD projects. The graphite research specialises in decommissioning and treatment of irradiated nuclear graphite waste in order to understand irradiation damage processes to nuclear graphite and to validate new treatment methods for irradiated nuclear graphite post-closure. This assists in underpinning the safety of current and decommissioned UK graphite moderated reactors. The NGRG have a close working relationship with many of these European partners with which they exchange irradiated graphite samples for the purpose of microstructural characterisation.

Fundamentals of Nuclear Graphite

Funding Bodies: EPSRC

Dr. Abbie Jones and Prof. Barry Marsden

In this proposal we put forward a strategy that draws on and augments the experimental database and UK research base and fully exploits the best contemporary techniques, with all the advantages of aberration correction for transmission electron microscope (TEM) lenses, of nanometre holography, of sophisticated software and high speed computers. All these were unavailable to the originators of the theory of radiation damage.

The research aim is to measure the time evolution of damage and microstructure, identify the controlling atomic and mesoscopic processes as a function of dose and time and deduce, for the first time, quantitative and consistent relationships between the physical property changes due to damage and dose, temperature and time for crystallites and their interfaces.

This research is part of a consortium which will investigate irradiation induced dimensional change, creep, and other property changes using the complementary techniques described in the programme below. For the first time multi-scale modelling offers a foundation for understanding from first principles calculations, through atomistic simulations to mesoscopic and macroscopic FE models.

Project spotlight

Greg Black

Supervisor: Dr. Abbie Jones
Sponsor: Office for Nuclear Regulation

I began my EngD project with the Nuclear Graphite Research Group in January 2010. Before this I completed my MSci Laser Physics & Optoelectronics degree at the University of Strathclyde and a NHS training scheme (Scotland) for Medical Physicists, which involved completing an MSc Medical Physics Computing at the University of Aberdeen and working at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary. During this time I specialised in the shielding of medical facilities, developing software which automate the calculation process.

My EngD project is: ‘Irradiated Graphite Waste: Analysis and Modelling of Radionuclide Release with a View Long Term Disposal’ which is sponsored by the Office for Nuclear Regulation and is project is part of a EU FP7 EUROATOM Carbowaste project, involving collaboration with Industrial, Universities and Government agencies throughout Europe. The project involves both simulation and experimental analysis of irradiated graphite waste which has allowed me to build on the skills and training I received in my previous degrees and provide training as a medical physicist.

On deciding to embark on postgraduate study I researched a number of projects at several universities; I was drawn to Manchester for its world-class reputation for nuclear research and leading role in the Nuclear Engineering Doctorate Scheme. Studying at Manchester has given me the opportunity to attend and present at International conferences and have access to world-leading research facilities. There is also a strong emphasis on collaboration with outside partners, including government bodies and industry.

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