NSUF Article

The National Nuclear User Facility (NNUF): opportunities for access

Tuesday, April 12, 2022 - Facility Highlight

The National Nuclear User Facility (NNUF) is a £100 million investment by the UK government in state-of-the-art experimental facilities for research and development in nuclear science and technology.

The aim is to install new equipment and laboratories, provide training opportunities for nuclear scientists and engineers, and foster international collaborations.

Outstanding facilities

There are 30 NNUF facilities, many of which can handle active materials.

Additional capability has been added at well-established facilities, including the UK’s National Nuclear Laboratory, the University of Manchester’s Dalton Cumbrian Facility, and UKAEA’s Materials Research Facility.

Newer projects include a neutron source at Birmingham, an investment in nuclear robotics at Bristol, UKAEA, Manchester, and NNL, and a new active Atom Probe Tomography facility in Oxford.

The latest facilities were funded in 2021 and are currently being installed.

Free access for international researchers

NNUF’s £6.5 million user access scheme allows UK university researchers (or employees of any other organization eligible to bid for UKRI funding) to apply to use NNUF facilities free of charge. This scheme is now open to researchers from outside the UK.

Researchers are eligible if a faculty member in a UK university is included on the project team or if it can be shown that the proposed experiment is part of establishing/expanding a substantial collaboration between the research group and the institution hosting the facility.

Further eligibility details are on the NNUF website.

How to apply

Calls run quarterly. Users typically apply for experiments lasting up to 6 months. Those with persuasive cases can apply for a longer/larger project.

The 8th round opens in April, with a closing date of 31st May 2022. This covers access commencing primarily in July to September of 2022.

  • Contact the facility(ies) to check the feasibility of the experiment (can include up to 3 NNUF facilities). Check the NNUF website for a current list.

Remote access available

Many facilities offer a range of options, including facility scientists performing experiments on behalf of, or under the direction of, external users.

Those attending in person will need to fund transport to the UK, but NNUF can cover expenses such as accommodation, subsistence, sample transport, etc.

What is NNUF looking for?

NNUF is looking for clear relevance to civil nuclear research or technology.

NNUF also welcomes a range of applications, from shorter "proof of principle" experiments to projects that are substantial in their own right.

The more ambitious, the better!

Apply now, while funding is available!

The access scheme is scheduled to end in March of 2023. 

Further information

For inquiries about individual facilities, contact the facility directly using the details provided on the facility pages of the NNUF website.

For inquiries about NNUF or the access scheme, contact Francesca McGowan, NNUF Administrator, University of Oxford.