Challenge: Nuclear energy generation is a critical medium term solution to our energy problems. The technical challenge is for the safe and efficient harnessing of nuclear energy, exploring both fission and fusion technologies.
Nuclear power is a low carbon source of electricity and makes an important contribution to of our energy supplies. Without existing nuclear power stations, UK carbon emissions would have been 5-12 per cent higher in 2004 than otherwise.1 Nuclear energy generation is therefore a critical medium-term solution to our energy challenge.
Potential opportunities for the chemical sciences:
- Research methods for the efficient and safe utilisation of nuclear fission
- Advance the understanding of the physico-chemical effects of radiation on material fatigue, stresses and corrosion in nuclear power stations
- Improve methods for spent fuel processing including developing advanced separation technologies (allowing control of chemical selectivity)
- Design and demonstrate the new generation of advanced reactors including GEN IV based fuel cycles using actinide-based fuels
- Study the nuclear and chemical properties of the actinide and lanthanide elements
- Improve understanding of radiation effects on polymers, rubbers and ion exchange material
- Nuclear fusion
- Develop high performance structural materials capable of withstanding extreme operating conditions
1 The Role of nuclear power in a low carbon economy, paper 2: Reducing CO2 emissions - Nuclear and the alternatives, Sustainable Development Commission, 2006
Contact and Further Information
Royal Society of Chemistry, Thomas Graham House, Science Park, Milton Road, Cambridge CB4 0WF
Tel: +44 01223 432189