The DISTINCTIVE (Decommissioning, Immobilisation and Storage Solutions for Nuclear Waste Inventories) Consortium, funded by the EPSRC and industry, was a strategic partnership between 11 leading universities (Birmingham, Bristol, Imperial College London, Lancaster, Leeds, Loughborough, Manchester, Sheffield, Strathclyde, Surrey and University College London) and three industry partners (National Nuclear Laboratory, Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, Sellafield Ltd) in the area of nuclear decommissioning and waste management, formed to support UK government strategy.
The multi-disciplinary team included renowned experts in materials chemistry, radiochemistry, geochemistry, computational chemistry, chemical engineering and ceramic science, and addressed challenges associated with the continuing safe storage and disposal of radioactive legacy nuclear waste, and the roll-out of novel techniques and impactful research findings on nuclear sites and operational practices. Led by Professor Michael Fairweather (PI, Leeds) and supported by Dr Lois Tovey (consortium manager, Leeds), 46 academics, 17 post-doctoral researchers, 42 PhD students and 60 industrial personnel were directly involved in the research. In addition, the consortium took advice and guidance from an International Advisory Group that included 13 industry and six US stakeholders.
As a result of the success of DISTINCTIVE, a follow-on project (TRANSCEND – Transformative Science and Engineering for Nuclear Decommissioning) was awarded. This project, again funded by the EPSRC and industry, is led by the University of Leeds and involves 11 world-leading universities. Most importantly, given the significant impact of DISTINCTIVE, the involvement of industry partners has been increased from three to eight. As with DISTINCTIVE, overall and individual project scopes were again developed collaboratively between academic and industry partners, which bodes well for the ongoing delivery of impactful research and of trained personnel into the industry.