Future Nuclear (GEN IV, SMR) and Fusion

Last Year’s Discussion (As We Remember It)

  • UK should be known globally for one or two big things in the space of future systems
    • “a flagship project”
  • Cluster the skills base around that
  • Fusion-fission synergies are important
  • Remember the wider expertise we have – it’s internationally recognised – broad base of technical capability 

UK Strengths

  • The fuel cycle (fabrication to reprocessing)
  • Predominantly an industrial strength?
  • An academic strength is thorium
  • Reactor design – military linked issues*
  • Quickest route to future modular LWR systems is via submarine heritage
  • Large scale facilities (x-rays, neutrons, JET, JHR …)
  • Accelerator expertise (P&T, radioisotopes …)
  • Modelling (industry and academic capability)
  • NAMRC much potential 

UK Weakness

  • Reactor design – in civil industry – compare with overseas
  • Not sufficiently engaged in international programmes (JHR step in right direction).
  • Need a bottle to bring to global party.
  • Money! Prime our pump
  • Need a long term vision– Beddington was right
  • Stick to it

UK Opportunities

  • Other players exiting the game post Fukushima
  • Import technology and talent?
  • Think technology exports not UK electricity generation
  • We can play in Gen IV
  • Two routes to Gen IV – UK specific go it alone OR we back an international or European idea
  • EU member state – EU can help 

Threats to UK

  • Failure to have a serious Gen IV plan – involvement in R not enough need to be in D,D and D
  • Money
  • People, OK if managed with care – don’t ask young engineers to take career risks
  • UK strength is we fail and fail quickly, but it is a threat to long-term difficult things
  • EU Framework not aligned our ambitions?
  • Gen IV is difficult for one country alone
  • Fusion shows us strength a flagship – JET a successful flagship – also good regional and national economic impact
  • Do we have good recent experience? Yes, Diamond, ISIS target 2
  • Are we too late to join the queue – elbow our way in –others may be exiting


  • LWR SMR (fixed or marine)
  • Myrrha
  • ITER
  • Fusion DEMO
  • Materials Test Facility (High Energy Neutrons)

Future Systems

  • Things we should consider
  • Thorium (MOX fuel assemblies for Sizewell or Wylfa)
  • Electrochemical reprocessing
  • Molten Salt research
  • Advanced nuclear structural materials (Fabrication of big bits of ODS, silicon/carbon fibre composites etc. – NAMRC a start)
  • ESS – much energy interest
  • … Gen IV list is endless – keep the brainstorming going

What Technologies And Capabilities Do We Need, But Lack?

  • Materials research
    • expand and shift focus towards Gen IV
  • Social issues/trust building
  • Anticipate regulatory and economic issues
  • Restore/strengthen fuel cycle capabilities
  • Central design capability
  • Gen IV is high temp, high flux …. Know more about that
  • Understand thorium better
  • Nuclear data campaigns
  • … Lots more we might say – more brainstorming needed – 1 hour not enough J

Our Closing Discussion

  • Role that NIRO and NIRAB will play?
  • How can UK choose a flagship – a complex multi-attribute decision (not just best science, or best NPV …)
  • Convene/strengthen a national discussion
  • Could LCICG play a key role? Crucially it crosses government.
  • Relates to activist industrial policy …
  • Export potential a  key consideration
  • How can UK develop flagship
  • Think of the policy synergies across DECC, BIS, MOD, …
  • Need a mechanism for a multilateral discussion across all the stakeholders especially industry

We need a vision for the future if we are to do future systems – we have that in fusion we need it in fission