Reflecting the fuel used in the UK’s current Advanced Gas-cooled Reactors (AGRs) and Light Water Reactors (LWRs), and to be used in new build LWRs, UTGARD Phase II will focus on oxide SIMFUELs – although, with an eye to future fuel cycles, this will include Mixed Oxide (MOX) and ThO2-based fuels. This new facility is designed to extend and interact with Lancaster’s existing radiochemical lab for open sources, UTGARD, creating an effective synergistic single R&D facility and enabling research in the following themes:
1) Development of new, advanced sintering routes for the fabrication of SIMFUELs with porosities, fission product loadings, and defect microstructures that better simulate those of real spent nuclear fuel (UTGARD Phase II).
2) Behavioural studies of advanced SIMFUELs, as well as those prepared using conventional techniques, under a range of conditions relevant to the back end of the fuel cycle – including wet/dry interim storage, geological disposal and new reprocessing routes (UTGARD Phase I).
For all fabrication methods in theme 1, samples of each simulant created by UTGARD researchers and, with permission, by external users will be retained on-site, so creating a library of well characterised SIMFUELs for use by external researchers who do not wish to create their own materials.
Constructed in 2016, UTGARD laboratory is a ~120 m2 process chemistry laboratory for work on β/γ active fission products, uranium, thorium and low level alpha tracers.
UTGARD Phase II involves an extension to the existing UTGARD Laboratory, generating a further ~40 m2 of new laboratory space. As with the existing laboratory, UTGARD Phase II will be rated to the highest level of university open source radiation protection, allowing for the handling of a wide variety of radioactive isotopes for use in SIMFUEL manufacture.
UTGARD Phase I
Access to existing equipment in UTGARD Phase I is also possible through the NNUF funded user access scheme:
Radiation handling and measurement
• α/β tray counter
• Multi-sample gamma counter / spectrometer
• Large negative pressure glove box, fully HEPA filtered for α-sample preparation
• Anoxic, positive pressure glovebox
• Two banks of two centrifugal contactors and pumps
• Multiple potentiostats, including low current and EIS models
• Rotating Disk Electrodes (RDE and RRDE)
• Quartz Crystal Microbalances (QCM)
• Two Raman microscopes
• FT-IR with ATR stage
• UV-VIS-NIR spectrophotometer and Stop-Flow adaptor
• High Pressure Liquid Chromatography (HPLC)
• Anion and Cation Ion Chromatography system with combined Mass Spectrometer (IC-MS)
• TGA/DSC system with combined gas mass spectrometer (TGA-MS) up to 1050°C
• Raman hot stage up to 1100°C
• SEM with EDX
• Large chamber XRF system