Research at NDA

Under the Energy Act 2004, the NDA is required to promote and, where necessary, carry out research to support decommissioning and clean-up.

Research and development (R&D) play a critical for solving the wide range of complex, often unique, challenges that our sites face.

Investment in R&D also develops the key technical skills that are critical for the continued delivery of our mission over the next 100-plus years.

The NDA Research and Development Strategy (PDF, 183KB, 23 pages) outlines our approach to addressing multi-site needs and more specific issues identified by Site Licence Companies (SLCs).

Progress depends on:

  • developing a clear understanding of the issues
  • finding the right solutions
  • ensuring the cost to taxpayers is acceptable

The majority of R&D is carried out by SLCs and their supply chains. From 2010 to 2015, our SLCs spent approximately £85 million each year on R&D.

In addition, the NDA commissions R&D projects directly, totalling approximately £5 million per year.

Our R&D programmes, both estate-wide and directly commissioned by NDA, are supported by:


Our approach is based on:

Our R&D programme

Currently, we channel R&D funds through 2 routes:

Our directly funded R&D programme is divided into the following categories:

Direct Research Portfolio (DRP)

This portfolio addresses issues that could affect multiple sites, or SLCs, in areas of

  • informing strategy
  • technical innovation
  • key technical skills’

These projects are delivered through framework contracts awarded to a range of supply chain organisations.

Further information can be found in our:

Technical innovation

This work is focused on supporting the supply chain to develop new ideas and technologies. Projects are often jointly funded with other public sector partners, eg Innovate UK, Department of Energy and Climate Change (now Department for Business, Energy and Industry Strategy), Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.

International collaboration

Our focus is on sharing and gaining access to global good practice, experience and information about innovative technologies.

Radiation epidemiology and radiobiology research

Public Health England investigates, on our behalf, the health impact on our workforce of exposure to man-made radiation.

UK inventory of radioactive waste and materials

We produce the comprehensive inventory of radioactive wastes and materials across the UK.

Impact of our R&D programme

Our R&D investments have resulted in:

  • safer working environments through the development of innovative remote technologies, including laser cutting, robotics and improved radiation detection
  • more funding for the supply chain through our collaborations with other public organisations
  • a vibrant supply chain working to solve long-standing technical challenges
  • a sustained programme of academic research into nuclear decommissioning
  • the establishment of a unique, world-class research centre, the £20 million Dalton Cumbrian Facility (DCF), specialising in radiation science and decommissioning engineering

Nuclear decommissioning: research and development brochures

NDA Research Board

The NDA Research Board is independently chaired and encompasses a broad strategic role, co-ordinating national R&D for:

  • decommissioning
  • radioactive waste management
  • radioactive waste disposal

NDA research board terms of reference (PDF, 40.2KB, 3 pages)

Annual reports

NDA Research Board Annual Report 2015 to 2016 (PDF, 160KB, 14 pages)

NDA annual research board report FY 2014 to 2015 (PDF, 168KB, 18 pages)

NDA annual research board report FY 2013 to 2014 (PDF, 145KB, 16 pages)

Recent meetings

NDA Research Board Meeting Agenda November 2016 (PDF, 81.2KB, 2 pages)

NDA Research Board Meeting Minutes May 2016 (PDF, 151KB, 12 pages)

NDA Research Board Meeting Agenda May 2016 (PDF, 33.8KB, 3 pages)

NDA Research Board Meeting Minutes November 2015 (PDF, 80.6KB, 15 pages)

NDA Research Board November 2015 - Agenda (PDF, 34.1KB, 3 pages)

NDA Research Board April 2015 - Minutes (PDF, 80KB, 15 pages)

NDA Research Board April 2015 – Agenda (PDF, 33.9KB, 3 pages)

NDA Research Board October 2014 – Agenda (PDF, 84.7KB, 3 pages)

NDA Research Board October 2014 – Minutes (PDF, 230KB, 12 pages)

NDA Research Board April 2014 – Agenda (PDF, 33.2KB, 3 pages)

NDA Research Board April 2014 – Minutes (PDF, 79.6KB, 11 pages)

Recent papers

NDARB030 NDA Responses to Recommendations - review of TBuRD process NDARB021 (PDF, 111KB, 11 pages)

NDARB029 NDA vocabulary for responses to NDA research board position paper recommendations (PDF, 76.7KB, 4 pages)

NDARB027 Output of NDA Research Board - Review of NDA's approach to robotics and autonomous systems (RAS) (PDF, 137KB, 11 pages)

NDARB026 NDA Response to Recommendations – Review of NDA's Higher Activity Waste Pre-Disposal Treatment R&D (NDARB020) (PDF, 389KB, 9 pages)

NDARB025 NDA Response to Recommendations - Reivew of NDA's Spent Fuels R&D Programme (NDARB016) (PDF, 113KB, 12 pages)

NDARB021 NDA Response to Recommendations - Review of NDA's Higher Activity Waste Pre-Disposal Treatment R&D (NDARB020) (PDF, 288KB, 26 pages)

NDARB020 Review of NDA's Higher Activity Waste Pre-Disposal Treatment Research and Development (PDF, 80.2KB, 17 pages)

NDARB016 Review of NDA's Spent Fuels Research and Development Programme (PDF, 184KB, 16 pages)

NDARB019 NDA response to recommendations from review of Radioactive Waste Management Directorate’s (RWMD) R&D Programme (NDARB011) (PDF, 45.6KB, 5 pages)

NDARB011 Review of Radioactive Waste Management Directorate’s Research and Development Programme October 2014 (PDF, 140KB, 11 pages)

Nuclear Waste and Decommissioning Research Forum (NWDRF)

The Nuclear Waste and Decommissioning Research Forum is a cross industry group that aims to enhance coordination of R&D and technical programmes across UK Site Restoration and Integrated Waste Management activities.

Its membership includes representatives from NDA, Radioactive Waste Management (RWM), Site Licence Companies, regulators and organisations with significant nuclear decommissioning liabilities.

Nuclear Waste and Decommissioning Research Forum Terms of Reference (PDF, 21.7KB, 3 pages)

Radiation epidemiology and radiobiology research

Significant epidemiological and radiobiological research involving nuclear industry workers was previously sponsored by parts of the UK nuclear industry (e.g. British Nuclear Fuels Ltd and United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority). NDA now own and manage this work and its assets. We support research in these areas as it has a potential impact on the safety, cost, management, delivery and public acceptability of decommissioning.

Radiation epidemiology publication July 2014 (PDF, 41.4KB, 3 pages)

NDA Radiation Epidemiology Programme July 2013 (PDF, 88.2KB, 1 page)

NDA and PHE Epidemiology Governance Group Annual Report FY 2016 to 2017

Determining a preferred option

The Preferred Option paper presents the NDA’s assessment of various options for managing the ongoing research programme and associated assets. Following publication of a range of options in October 2013 and consultation with stakeholders, the NDA has concluded that its preferred option is to develop a strategic relationship with Public Health England (PHE) with the long-term aim of restructuring the ownership and management of the assets.

Radiation Epidemiology and Radiobiology Research Credible Options October 2013 (PDF, 137KB, 19 pages)

Radiation Epidemiology and Radiobiology Research Preferred Option (PDF, 179KB, 24 pages)

R&D publications

Nuclear Decommissioning Authority: R&D technical baseline

The Technical Baseline report provides a high-level overview of the processes and associated technologies used or planned to be used to deliver our mission and the organisations responsible for their development and implementation.

Nuclear decommissioning: research and development brochures

Direct Research Portfolio (DRP) Projects: quarterly update

This document shows the Direct Research Portfolio (DRP) projects that are ongoing or were commissioned during Financial Year 2014 to 2015. Each project is aligned to an R&D topic in the NDA’s 5 year R&D plan. The document shows the contractor, purchase order value, R&D driver and current status. Where projects are complete, the final reports are available upon request. This information will be updated quarterly as new projects are awarded.

Direct Research Portfolio (DRP) Annual Report 2013 to 2014

This document highlights the work undertaken as part of NDA’s Direct Research Portfolio (DRP) in 2013 to 2014. This document provides details of the research projects carried out, the reason for carrying out the R&D (informing strategy, delivering innovation, supporting skills) and the main organisations carrying out the research.

Understanding activities that produce radioactive wastes in the UK, published 2015

This document provides a useful overview of activities that produce radioactive waste in the UK, suitable for those who are new to the nuclear sector or those with a general interest in the topic.

Guide to Technology Readiness Levels for the NDA estate and its Supply Chain (PDF, 439KB, 27 pages)

This guide provides information on what Technology Readiness Levels (TRLs) are, when their use is appropriate, what factors need to be considered when assigning a TRL to a technology and what is established good practice in assigning TRLs.

NDA research and development: driving solutions delivering progress brochure (PDF, 806KB, 16 pages)

This brochure outlines the NDA’s approach to investing in the development of innovative technical solutions.

NDA Research and Development 5 year plan: 2014 to 2019

This report provides an overview of the NDA’s strategic R&D programme for five financial years (FY2014/15 to FY2018/19).

EGPR04 Technology Research Investment Process

This procedure outlines the stages of identifying, contracting and delivering R&D through the Direct Research Portfolio.

Summary of Independent Peer Review and Analysis of SLCs' Technical Baseline and Underpinning Research and Development (TBuRD) Submissions from March 2014 (PDF, 865KB, 24 pages)

This is a summary of the independent peer review of the technical documents prepared by the SLCs. It highlights some of the key messages across the estate and reflects on how the Technical Baseline and underpinning R&D (TBuRD) process is improving the NDA’s and SLCs’ understanding of the R&D programme.

UK Radioactive Waste Inventory

For background information on quantities and the nature of radioactive waste.

Contact us

For queries related to research