Nuclear materials team hopes for MIDAS touch
A new programme led by Professor Michael Preuss of the School of Materials will study the assembly materials used for protective cladding in nuclear reactors. Named Mechanistic Understanding of Irradiation Damage in Fuel Assemblies – or MIDAS – the programme aims, ultimately, to help the UK and other countries meet their carbon reduction targets and achieve an energy mix that produces less CO2.
We sat down with Professor Preuss to tell us more about what MIDAS is, why it’s so important and what it hopes to achieve:
More about MIDAS
Some background information about the programme: The University of Manchester, along with the University of Oxford, Imperial College London and the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy, has been awarded a prestigious Programme Grant by the Engineering and Physical Science Research Council (EPSRC) for in-depth fuel cladding and zirconium research.
The total value of the MIDAS programme is significant – around the £25 million mark. It aims to play an important role in making nuclear power cleaner, cheaper and safer through a better understanding of the behaviour and performance of the materials used, which should – in turn – lead to more efficient use of nuclear fuel.
MIDAS will also focus on improving reactor safety. It will work towards a greater understanding of fuel cladding behaviour in accident scenarios, helping reactors to stay safe during major incidents – such as that which took place in Fukushima, Japan in 2011.
Another objective is to investigate the use of zirconium alloys in critical components for future fusion reactors, helping to maintain the UK’s reputation as a centre of excellence in fusion research. Professor Preuss, meanwhile, was recently named the recipient of the prestigious 2018 Kroll Zirconium Medal – which recognises outstanding achievement in the field of zirconium research and technology.