BUFFF logo: image of 4 scientists, engineers and medics



Red, yellow and white crest with mythical creatures
University of Bristol logo
University of Manchester Dalton Nuclear Institute logo

The BUFFF Facility is hosted by Bangor University, in alliance with the University of Sheffield, the University of Bristol and the University of Manchester Dalton Nuclear Institute.



PI: Prof Simon Middleburgh


Industry and academia work collaboratively in the BUFFF, to gain an improved mechanistic understanding of nuclear fuel fabrication processes for fission and fusion systems, and beyond. BUFFF was designed in close collaboration with industry and national laboratories to complement and enhance the UK’s current research provision. The facility allows work with uranium compounds, at research quantities but in an industrially relevant manner: progressing from the preparation of ceramic/metallic powders to sintering and post-sintering characterisation.
The key to BUFFF’s applicability in both industry and academic research contexts lies in the volume of information that is provided from the processes available to users. This includes pressing data from the instrumented pellet presses and powder size and morphology data. Additionally, sintering atmosphere flexibility, and ability to assess the sintering environment in-situ, enables a mechanistic understanding of the principles governing fabrication. The main BUFFF furnace is equipped with sapphire windows, enabling users to monitor the behaviour of the materials at temperatures exceeding 1750°C in pure hydrogen atmospheres as well as inert and corrosive environments.


  • Sintering studies: the BUFFF optical dilatometer allows users to assess sample sintering rates under specific atmospheric conditions, permitting optimisation of industrial processes and enabling a more mechanistic understanding of this ubiquitous technique. Sample sizes are initially limited to ~1cm3 in atmospheres ranging from pure H2 to inert (Ar/N2) with additions of H2O, CO2 and other gases that will also allow degradation and ageing to be studied.


  • Nuclear Materials Library: BUFFF will host a library of uranic compounds that will be made available to the UK’s nuclear research community and will also work with the nuclear forensics community to aid the development of new forensics techniques.
  • BUFFF Online: Training, education and remote usage of the BUFFF is made possible through a suite of connectivity infrastructure, and training and outreach events will be made available through BUFFF Online with our able and radiation-trained technical and research staff on hand to support users. Please contact us for online lectures, outreach events and training. BUFFF will be used to enhance the taught provisions in universities, for example within the Nuclear Energy Futures Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT).
  • Links with existing equipment at Bangor University: the Nuclear Futures Institute at Bangor University provides access to a range of active furnaces (including W-vacuum furnace capable of sintering at 2200°C); active milling; Raman microscope; scanning electron microscopy; X-ray diffraction; our Simultaneous Thermal Analyser (STA) with mass spectroscopy and moisture additions; and testing facilities such as the Bangor University Lead Loop for Erosion/corrosion Testing (BULLET) and the Thermal Hydraulic Open-access Research (THOR) facility. This enables a wider range of research for fusion and fission studies (see https://nubu.nu/materials/merlin/).
  • Radiation safety is an important aspect of our work and our activities within the BUFFF. We work with other institutions and collaborators, as well as our local radiation protection team, to ensure BUFFF is a safe place to work and visit. We have hand/foot radiation monitors as well as air monitoring installed within the BUFFF, as well as a range of other detectors to aid the well trained and supported technical and research team.

Research Applications

  • Novel fission fuel and ceramic manufacture: sintering and optimisation 
  • Ceramic processing studies (including feedstock optimisation)
  • Assessing the impact of dopants and impurities on manufacture
  • Oxidation and degradation of ceramics/metals
  • Dilatometry (thermal expansion) of fragile or soft systems
  • Assessment and charging for hydrogen storage materials
  • Material/material interaction assessment at temperature (e.g. for advanced technology fuels).
  • Environmental impact on material morphology (e.g. for forensics purposes).



For any further information or to discuss the facility capabilities, please contact Prof Simon Middleburgh (s.middleburgh@bangor.ac.uk), David Williams (david.wyn.williams@bangor.ac.uk) and John Thomas Prabhakar (john.thomas@bangor.ac.uk).


The BUFFF facility at Bangor University is open for research. We welcome external users and are able to accommodate them either in person or remotely, by working with Bangor University scientists and the technical team.

In the first instance please do reach out to the Bangor University BUFFF team to discuss requirements. Limited work will be possible with the existing UO2 stock whilst we commission the facility and develop our training modules. Please contact the team with any questions.



NNUF funded user access scheme for the BUFFF

As a first step, please email s.middleburgh@bangor.ac.uk, david.wyn.williams@bangor.ac.uk and john.thomas@bangor.ac.uk to contact the BUFFF for a discussion about the practical feasibility of your proposed research project. Then, you will need to complete a simple NNUF application form. When doing so, please upload an email exchange between you and a member of staff at the BUFFF, confirming the feasibility of your proposed research. Please see the access page of this website for more detail about the NNUF funded user access scheme.

© Bangor University.