Lancashire's National Nuclear Laboratory shows off its capabilities to energy minister

A key Government minister visited Lancashire’s nuclear fuel manufacturing site to see work being done which could support Britain’s future power programme.

By Tim Gavell
Sunday, 19th December 2021, 9:28 am

With the Government recently backing Rolls Royce’s proposals for small modular reactors, hopes are high that the Springfields factory at Salwick between Preston and Blackpool could get work to make the fuel for the new generation of power plants.

The Minster of State for Energy, Clean Growth and Climate Change, Greg Hands, and other government colleagues visited the National Nuclear Laboratory based at Springfields, see scientists and experts are working on the next generation of advanced nuclear technology.

This includes developing the prototype fuel pellets that could be used in an Advanced Modular Reactor, as part of the proposed UK demonstration programme.

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Minister Greg Hands with NNL chief executive Paul Howarth

The team from NNL explained to the Minister how its Salwick Laboratory is a key part of the UK’s nuclear infrastructure and a strategic national asset.

The minister also heard more about the scientists’ pioneering work in the areas of environmental restoration and health and nuclear medicine, aiming to repurpose used nuclear materials which might otherwise be wasted.

Throughout the visit, the value of collaboration across the nuclear sector was emphasised in driving future innovation and development. This includes NNL’s close working relationship with Westinghouse and wider sector partners to ensure that the Springfields site remains a flagship UK manufacturing base for advanced nuclear fuels.

The Minister said: “I was delighted to visit the National Nuclear Laboratory at their world-leading laboratory for scientific research and innovation in the North West of England.

“The work they are doing to develop advanced fuels for the next generation of nuclear reactors will be essential to the UK’s ambitions to build our national capabilities and secure our position as a global leader in these clean energy technologies.

“It is fantastic that we have a national laboratory in the NNL that is driving the key research and development we need to meet our net zero goals, whilst promoting UK skills, jobs and interests.”

Paul Howarth, chief executive officer of NNL, said: “It was a pleasure to welcome the Minister and his colleagues to visit our Preston Laboratory today. We very much appreciate them taking the time to come and see first hand the pioneering work we do here harnessing nuclear science to benefit society, including the AFCP and ANSIC programmes both of which have been underpinned by significant Government funding.

“I’m looking forward to working with the Minister and his team to take forward some of the topics we discussed during the visit.”

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