Reactor Materials Testing Laboratory
Forging the way for nuclear materials research.
What we do…
Since its establishment in 2002 the Queen’s Nuclear Materials group has grown to its current composition of 6 faculty, and more than 25 students and postdocs. Led by Professor Mark Daymond who took over as Senior IRC in 2012, the Reactor Materials Testing Laboratory (RMTL) is a state-of-the-art, one-story facility that was officially opened in 2015. The facility includes a proton and helium accelerator to introduce radiation damage and transmutation products into materials, mimicking the changes to materials occurring in a nuclear reactor. In addition, the facility is equipped with a suite of equipment for testing mechanical and corrosion properties, as well as a range of characterisation equipment, including in situ capabilities.
With the current push to reduce our collective carbon footprint, nuclear power is transforming into the energy of choice for the world. Furthermore, it produces energy at a much lower cost, more effectively and with fewer adverse consequences for the environment than most other energy sources. On a global level, it is clear that nuclear power must contribute a significant proportion of power generation infrastructure over the next 50 years and beyond in order to maintain low carbon emissions.
It is clear that the data collected through studies at the RMTL will help develop strategies to extend the effective lifetime of existing, as well as, new nuclear reactors to support the more environmentally friendly energy path that the global community has chosen to tread.
Exploring nuclear materials safely
All workers at RMTL must undergo basic radiation safety training to enter and use the facilities. Training is given in a graduated scheme ranging from levels 1 to 3, whereby certain areas of the lab are restricted depending on level of training received. At RMTL, the ALARA (As Low As Reasonably Achievable) policy is followed, which ensures exposure to radiation is minimal to workers and to the public. Long pants and closed toed shoes must be worn at all times while at the lab.