The UK National Nuclear Laboratory (NLL) and the University of Leicester have cemented and expanded their long-standing strategic collaboration. NLL CEO Professor Paul Howarth said: “I am delighted to celebrate and formalise the National Nuclear Laboratory’s strategic collaboration with the University of Leicester that commenced over ten years ago. The development of our existing relationship with the University demonstrates our commitment to driving nuclear-relevant research, skills, and capabilities in the Midlands and across the UK.

NNL has created a process to extract Americium-241 from stored nuclear material and repurpose it as fuel for systems developed by the University of Leicester, with support from the European Space Agency and the UK Space Agency, for use in future space missions. The new collaboration will explore opportunities to support student education and career paths around the nuclear and nuclear space industry, joint research activity and to establish an international profile for nuclear research and expertise.

“This strategic collaboration will enable us to strengthen our joint capability in the nuclear fuel cycle and its application to space exploration and health and nuclear medicine, whilst providing a firm basis for investigating other joint research topics,” said Howarth. “The collaboration will play a vital role in the UK’s ability to deliver on the next wave of space-related nuclear power technologies, as well as supporting advances in transformative health and nuclear-related medicine.”

Professor Nishan Canagarajah, President and Vice-Chancellor at the University of Leicester, said exploring the new frontiers of our universe requires innovative thinking, diverse expertise and collaboration across industry and academia. “Space Park Leicester was established to foster such collaborations and I am delighted to see that in action through our partnership with the National Nuclear Laboratory, which not only cements Leicester’s place in the space economy as Britain’s Space City but also prepares our students for the space careers of the future.”