Friday, 11 November 2011

James:A Nuclear Renaissance

Nuclear has had some what of a bad reputation of late, to such an extent that up until the white paper in 2009 there was to be no British nuclear future. As a man who grew up from the age of 4 saying 'I want to be a nuclear physicist' this was very worrying. However, now the tides have turned as realisation has come that, for whatever reason you chose, energy generation can not last on fossil fuels alone and we want power not just when the wind blows and the sun shines. So sorry folks but we need nuclear. Now I personally was very proud to be part of the launch of the new Nuclear Research Centre which will be mainly hosted by Bristol and Oxford universities supported by industry. This is, as the Minister of State Charles Hendry put it is 'the begin of a nuclear renaissance'. Which was highlighted by the demographic in the room as 'networking' began over sandwiches and tea. Britain has been out of the nuclear game too long, so there was a generation gap between those heading and steering the centre and us new guys looking to do the 'on the ground' research. It was alluded to during one of the opening speeches that this is a long term set of goals being created so they aren't for those setting the questions but more the eager minds of the new nuclear research generation coming through. Although I may look to be coming from a rather one eyed perspective I think this is a great thing and the first of many steps in the right direction which I hope to be a part of. Another key aspect that will set the NRC apart is that the research will be split into three main areas; first advanced research into generation 4 fission reactors and generation 1 fusion, secondly applied research looking to make the most of the energy produced and finally and possibly most importantly 'Nuclear Futures' a group dedicated to the social and environmental issues. So this will see working together as one not just the physicists, chemists, engineers but also those from the social sciences. I believe this is a good thing, and Tuesday could turn out to be a momentous occasion, not only for the country but also for Bristol University going forward to be the leader in yet another field.

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