We focus on nuclear decommissioning and radioactive waste management, contributing to national and international nuclear programmes.

Radiation science

The extensive radiation science facilities at the Dalton Cumbrian Facility (DCF) support world-leading research into the mechanisms and effects of radiation damage to materials. Our range of equipment also permits studies of radiation chemistry, radiation physics and investigations into interfacial radiation-induced processes. 

Experimental work and computational modelling help us to examine how the performance of materials deteriorates over time in irradiated environments. We are also improving the accuracy of lifespan predictions for nuclear engineering components and identifying what may cause them to fail.

Our radiation science research focuses on the effects of radiation on interfacial process, metallic solids, ceramics and glasses, hydrocarbons, heterogeneous systems, humid and damp systems, and chlorinated materials at realistic pressure and temperature.

Key areas of research in radiation science include:

  • Effects of radiation on PVC
  • Degradation of organics and hydrocarbon polymers
  • Radiolysis of water-UO2 and water-CeO2 mixed phase systems
  • Radiation chemistry of water cement systems
  • Production of H2 from water
  • Radiolysis of salt waters and brine
  • Radiation induced corrosion

Nuclear engineering decommissioning

Dalton Cumbrian Facility researchers are developing innovative solutions to meet the significant technical and engineering challenges of nuclear decommissioning and clean up.

Decommissioning and clean-up of the UK’s public sector nuclear facilities is a multi-billion pound programme with significant technical and engineering challenges. The global market is estimated at around £250 billion over the next 20 years.

Our capabilities include design, construction and demonstration of engineered solutions. A strong partnership with the National Nuclear Laboratory gives researchers access to radioactive materials research on the Sellafield site.

Research is led by Professor Barry Lennox.

Decommissioning technologies

We focus on the development of remote systems to aid water retrieval, characterisation, monitoring, intervention and dismantling, and deployment of autonomous systems as opposed to tele-operation.

Engage with our projects and researchers at The University of Manchester Robotics website. 

Our focus includes:

  • Enhancing performance of tele-operated devices
  • Increasing the ability of autonomous systems and proving capability in nuclear environments
  • Identifying and developing technologies that could represent a step change in decommissioning activities

Decontamination techniques

The facilities at the DCF allow researchers to understand the contamination processes at nuclear sites, enabling development of effective decontamination systems.

  • Physical and chemical aspects of the interactions between soluble or colloidal radionuclide species and solid materials
  • Reducing contamination of facilities
  • Applicability of current treatment methodologies to apply to new or novel waste streams and development of new approaches
  • Molecular scale understanding of the solution and colloidal behaviour in effluent and decontamination conditions.

Treatment of irradiated graphite

Researchers are developing a more detailed understanding of the behaviour of graphite waste and developing novel treatment methodologies.

  • Reducing isotopic content with pre-treatment of materials prior to disposal
  • Removing isotopes through direct chemical and physical thermal treatment
  • Understanding the containment behaviour of graphite


The Dalton Cumbrian Facility is part of the National Nuclear User Facility and places strong value in effective academic and industry collaborations.

Find out more about research collaborations across The University of Manchester and Dalton Nuclear Institute. 

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