Structural Materials


  •  Graphite science
  •  NDE and monitoring research (non contact)
  •  How materials degrade and creep at high temperatures
  •  Integrated computational modelling
  •  Modelling of structures of nuclear materials (UO2, MOX, cladding) and has developed a number of codes
  •  Structural Integrity assessment methods
  •  Neutron/synchrotron research capability (residual stress, damage evolution)
  •  Multi-scale characterisation of materials
  •  Growing recognised zirconium research capability
  •  Strong links between industry and academia
  •  Development of some key nuclear research laboratories
  •  Renaissance in Research Council and other funding sources
  •  International collaboration is strong in fusion.
  •  UK approach to developing a mechanistic understanding of materials degradation and structural behaviour rather than a purely empirical approach


  •  Loss of structural mechanics capability—large-scale structural features tests and capability for modelling large-scale
  • structures
  •  International collaboration is weak in some areas
  •  Radiation damage capability – to undertake radiation damage, and the hot cell facilities to test and examine materials
  •  Corrosion in general and environmentally-assisted cracking is not a strong as it used to be
  •  Lack of commitment to facilities at both low and high temperature
  •  Capacity to undertake v long-term tests (note DIAMOND development for a long-term test facility is a good sign)
  • Fragmented experimental capability
  • Vulnerable in terms of specific expertise in key areas: Radiation science, EAC, nuclear manufacturing, structural mechanics
  • Ability to do prototyping in materials development
  • Ability to manufacture v. large scale forgings for RPVs


  • Strength in HT materials for Gen IV
  • Increased interaction between academia, National Labs, and industry so students gain access to longer-term R&D and industrial expertise
  •  Growing nuclear research community with more younger research people
  •  Taking on experienced scientists from other countries
  •  Develop new understanding on materials, degradation, inspection to strengthen safety cases for lifetime extension
  •  Bring together fission/fusion structural materials and mechanics -particularly for high temperatures
  •  Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre: bringing together manufacturing research with industrial development
  •  Bringing together materials and modelling communities
  •  Creating a Nuclear User Facility to network national capability and facilitate access
  •  Engaging with STFC development in high performance computing for nuclear research in multi-scale modelling (methods & hardware)


  •  External perception that we don’t need to fund research because problems are solved or we can buy reactors off the shelf.
  •  The view that we have sufficient academic capability in nuclear
  •  Delay in civil new build: companies are waiting for a decision
  •  Another nuclear accident
  •  Challenge of introducing new materials, manufacturing methods, into nuclear – after the research has been done linking into Codes and Standards
  • Engaging steel manufacturers in developing new structural materials
  • Loss of nuclear manufacturing base and culture
  • Splitting of fission and fusion in structural materials
  • Lack of funding for nuclear research
  • Value from investment in nuclear research facilities is not realised by lack of focused and sustained funding
  • Public perception of nuclear, including linking fission research with nuclear weapons research

This information can also be downloaded as a pdf file here