Unparalleled nuclear understanding
With the UK nuclear sector at a turning point, National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL) is poised to help the industry transform and realise its potential.
Our unparalleled understanding of the science, challenges and opportunities makes us a unique authority and partner. We provide experts, technologies, and access to cutting-edge facilities to organisations around the world.
Our pioneering approach, harnessing potential technologies and translating them into industry-ready solutions, allows us to drive technological progress in the UK and internationally.
We work on projects as small as drilling a hole to analyse underground wastes with our integrated microdrilling technology, and as large as developing state-of-the-art power systems, based on radioactive materials, for spacecraft.
Our people are our difference
In an industry as complex as nuclear, there really is no substitute for expertise. Our people have a combined 10,000 years of experience and it's their talent which drives our organisation. But it's not just about the already experienced people on our team. We are nurturing the experts of the future, through a diverse range of opportunities suiting people just starting their careers as apprentices through to post-doctoral development programmes.
We use our expertise to advise not only our commercial customers, but also to provide independent advice to Government through NIRO, a part of NNL which is separated by an ethical barrier from our commercial operations.
As custodians of some of the most advanced laboratories, active handling facilities, and nuclear technology research facilities in the world, our ability to bridge the gap between idea and application is second to none.
We have invested in a suite of essential facilities to enable innovation to be safely tested and scaled before being adopted into the nuclear industry.
Combined with our unrivalled expertise and pool of internationally-renowned experts, this enables us to deliver a first-class service to the nuclear industry and to Government.
Safely Delivering Value
At our core, we help the nuclear industry succeed, while typically saving the UK taxpayer around £500m every year.
Without our advanced testing facilities or recognised experts, academic research could not easily be put into practical use. Our understanding of our customers, our supply-chain partners and the international nuclear landscape allows us to operate at the cutting-edge of knowledge, driving advances the nuclear sector would not otherwise benefit from.
We contribute expertise to all parts of the nuclear chain, from nuclear new build through to decommissioning. But nuclear technology has applications beyond nuclear power generation, in industries such as defence, medicine and space exploration. We will also use our expertise to help these sectors capitalise on innovation
What's the importance of the "Innovation for the Future of Nuclear Energy – A Global Forum"?
The nuclear sector is facing a tremendous opportunity to deliver low-carbon energy and sustainable economic growth around the world.
Many countries already recognise the crucial role nuclear power plays in achieving and exceeding climate change targets; it's an essential part of the low carbon energy mix. However, escalating costs and timescales challenge the future of nuclear programmes; not just for new nuclear build programmes, but for operating plant, fuel cycle, decommissioning and waste management programmes too.
As a sector, we can address these challenges by adopting innovative technologies such as advanced manufacturing, robotics and artificial intelligence, and transformative digital tools; but the answer does not lie in technology alone...
The UK's Big Technology Innovation initiative brought together nuclear representatives and technology leaders from various sectors, and identified the importance of adopting a more holistic approach to innovation; including the importance of innovation in these areas:
The benefits of this approach are already proven in other sectors. We have to learn from their success; how they approach to the deployment of innovation to drive down costs and to increase economic impact.
And that is why we are holding the Global Forum
This forum is our chance to agree the case for change, discuss the opportunities to remove barriers and gain commitment to do things differently in nuclear.
Making the most of this opportunity is essential; it's exciting and challenging, and most importantly it's achievable. If we don't do this, the nuclear sector faces an uncertain future in some countries. The transformative benefits of innovation have been well proven in other highly regulated sectors; health, rail, aerospace and space… so, why not nuclear?
Dr. Rob Whittleston is Vice President, Insights at the UK National Nuclear Laboratory.
Rob is proud to be working at the UK’s National Nuclear Laboratory in a role which is guiding and enabling the UK's response to a shifting nuclear landscape. His team are responsible for leading the delivery of strategic intelligence and insight to support the development and growth of both NNL and the wider UK nuclear sector, nationally and internationally.
Originally trained as a geochemist, Rob has held a variety of internationally facing roles spanning the nuclear fuel cycle; including UK nuclear new build and Fukushima decommissioning programmes at Hitachi, and the UK's geological disposal programme at the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority.
Rob has previously worked in central government, leading policy development in the rail sector.
Dr. Rob Whittleston
Insights at the UK National Nuclear Laboratory