Radiation in nuclear fission and fusion reactors is dominated by neutrons and gammas. The most intense particle fluxes in the SAGAN industries are found deep inside reactor cores. Materials used in reactor builds have to meet the most stringent quality control standards. Monitoring equipment used in and around reactor cores to measure critical quantities such as radiation and temperature also need careful testing to evaluate their radiation resilience. In addition to ionising dose damage, atomic displacement damage from neutron bombardment may be important. The Sheffield Radiation Effects team is currently helping several companies to develop radiation resilient ultrasound technologies for non destructive testing.
External to the reactor cores, or in the case or decommissioning and radioactive waste scenarios, the dose rates are smaller. In some cases standard (COTS) technologies are inherently radiation resilient and manufacturers can quickly enter their products into the nuclear supply chains. Carefully optimised shielding designs can prolong the COTS lifetime by modifying the radiation environments, which is best achieved performing high fidelity simulations.
Activities in the UK nuclear industry can be divided into:
- New builds: For example, the department for business, energy, and industrial strategy (BEIS) is investing significantly in the Advanced Modular Reactor project. Eight companies are receiving funding for feasibility studies into small modular reactor designs (SMR). A 2014 report by the National Nuclear Laboratory predicts a potential global SMR market of 65–85GWe by 2035, valued at £250–400 billion; and a UK market of around 7GWe.
- Decommissioning of existing facilities:
- Radioactive waste management:
- Plant life extension: