New Joint Directorship for Birmingham Centre for Nuclear Education and Research

The University of Birmingham has appointed two new Directors to lead the Birmingham Centre for Nuclear Education and Research.

Page 7 - Decommissioning

Dr Paul Norman, Director of Postgraduate Programmes for the Birmingham Centre for Nuclear Education and Research and Dr Joe Hriljac, Director of Postgraduate Admissions at the University of Birmingham, will lead a collaborative team to help develop nuclear expertise.

The Centre, launched in 2010, brings together a multidisciplinary team to help tackle fundamental nuclear industry issues and provide the investment and infrastructure to grow the nuclear proficiency and capacity that has existed at Birmingham for over 60 years.

The research division at the Centre will be led by Dr Hriljac, who has directed a breadth of research in the field of nuclear waste management and remediation. The University has a long and established track record in working in areas of decommissioning, health monitoring and residual life prediction of existing nuclear power stations, dating back to the first phase of nuclear construction. With significant investment in the area of nuclear engineering, waste management and decommissioning of current power stations, and the tremendous challenges in developing the next generation nuclear facilities, the Centre is well positioned to support new UK investment in the nuclear power sector.

Dr Norman, who leads the MSc Physics and Technology of Nuclear Reactors programme, which has ran for over 60 years at the University, will take leadership of the educational division within the Centre. With the demand for highly skilled graduates and postgraduates, the Centre has strong active international links with industry, which directly steers the development of its teaching programmes. This collaborative environment enables the Centre to align its research and teaching with real issues. The student experience is significantly enhanced from this exposure, resulting in high levels of recruitment opportunities for graduates.

Professor Martin Freer, Director of the Birmingham Energy Institute and former Director of the Birmingham Centre for Nuclear Education and Research, said:

"This is great recognition for the leadership Dr Norman has shown in his stewardship of the Physics and Technology of Nuclear Reactors Postgraduate programme, and the success Dr Hriljac has had in his research in the field of nuclear waste management and remediation. This is a great time for nuclear power technology, as the Hinkley Point C build commences, together with a range of other new build projects and the UK’s move towards establishing a deep geological waste repository. There is a strong and continued need for University support in shaping the future of the UK and its engagement with nuclear energy."

Dr Paul Norman said:

"Birmingham has a strong record in nuclear education, being the only university in the UK to have kept a nuclear reactors course running during the much less positive period of the 1980s-90s. Having run for over 60 years, its postgraduate MSc in Physics & Technology of Nuclear Reactors is by far the longest running nuclear reactors course in the UK. More recently, we also run the only course on Decommissioning & Waste Management in the country, as well as the largest undergraduate course in Nuclear Engineering in the UK. I look forward to working with Joe, and further enhancing this record as the new dawn for nuclear power in the UK, and worldwide, pans out. Indeed, new initiatives are already underway - such as our International School on Nuclear, which ran for 4 weeks during October, and adding a nuclear contribution to the more general Energy Masters here at Birmingham. The future for students graduating in the nuclear field should be a very bright one."

Dr Joe Hriljac said:

"I look forward to working with Paul and taking the Centre forward from the strong foundation that Martin has built by galvanising effort from across the University in both research and teaching in nuclear topics.  By all accounts RCUK, Innovate UK and the various agencies and industries are going to stay strongly committed to both fundamental and applied research to underpin both dealing with legacy issues such as Sellafield and progressing future nuclear projects including a geological disposal facility.  There is a wealth of research talent at the University that is already working on areas as diverse as fundamental studies of new materials for effluent clean-up, corrosion of storage canisters, advanced robotics and atomistic modelling of new fuels and radiation damage of materials and we need to continue these as well as bring in new researchers and topics to expand the Birmingham profile in nuclear energy."