NSUF Article

Applications open for European user facility network

Thursday, July 6, 2023 - Facility Highlight
By Tiera Cate, INL Communications 

A European-based user facility opened its first call on April 3. The next application cut-off is September 30. 
The OFFERR project, launched by the Sustainable Nuclear Energy Technology Platform and funded by European Atomic Energy Community, announced its first call for proposals earlier this month. The European User Facility Network catalog was also published to showcase a wide range of nuclear research facilities participating in this call.  
The network facilitates international cooperation in nuclear research between European Union research organizations, universities, companies and their partners. They also finance transnational access to critical nuclear research infrastructures.  
U.S. researchers may be familiar with certain aspects of this structure through the Nuclear Science User Facilities (NSUF). The NSUF provided information on its operation, types of projects, application processes, activities such as database generation and lessons learned to the U.K. National Nuclear User Facility (NNUF) and the EC European User Facility Network. 

NSUF’s previous director, Rory Kennedy has been working with the NNUF since 2014 and OFFERR since 2021. For the NNUF the NSUF was first invited to the Nuclear Academics Discussion in 2014. Every year after that, the NSUF attended, presenting updates on the NSUF. The discussion brings academics and government officials together to discuss and update on all the nuclear-related programs in the U.K.
In 2021, Kennedy and the Nuclear Fuels and Materials Library (NFML) lead held several discussions with the leads for the NNUF Irradiated Materials Archive, discussing many aspects of the NFML. As part of this, the NSUF reviewed and commented on the UK NNUF Irradiated Materials Archive Options Study document being submitted to fund the archive. In 2022, in discussions with Prof. Chris Grovenor (NNUF Management Group Chair), Kennedy established a pilot project between the NSUF and the NNUF through the U.S.-U.K. Nuclear Energy Research and Development Cooperative Action Plan as part of the charter for the Enabling Technologies Working Group. This ongoing pilot project is based on materials fabrication in the U.S., irradiation in Idaho National Laboratory’s Advanced Test Reactor, and a shared post-irradiation examination plan.
Correspondence for the OFFERR project began in 2021, with several telecons in 2022. NSUF was invited to the OFFERR kick-off meeting in 2022 and presented an overview of the NSUF. In addition, the OFFERR leads visited the NSUF website to gain additional information. 
The NSUF provided information about the NSUF through documents, telecoms, attendance and presentations at meetings, or on-site visits to the U.S. from their representatives. It was crucial to provide guidance to continue advancing the nuclear energy enterprise. U.S. NSUF interaction with international user facilities forms the basis for future collaborations. The ultimate collaboration would enable sharing of capabilities for U.S., UK, and EU researchers across national borders.