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Thursday, 28 March 2013, 7 p.m., Edinburgh
Our Atomic Future

Special Event: Edinburgh International Science Festival, Edinburgh International Science Festival

This event occurred on: Thursday, 28 March 2013, 7 p.m.


The Scottish Government has pledged to phase out nuclear power by 2020. However, many experts suggest that in the face of an impending energy crisis we should be embracing nuclear energy rather than rejecting it. What is 4th Generation Nuclear Power and could it be the answer to our future energy needs? Or could nuclear fusion be a viable option? Join Professor Steve Cowley, Director of the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy, and nuclear fission expert Professor Tim Abraham, Directory of the Centre for Nuclear Energy Technology at the University of Manchester, as they explore the past, present, and future of this controversial energy source.


Steven Cowley became Director at Culham in September 2008 and was appointed as Chief Executive Officer of the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority in November 2009. He received his BA from Oxford University and his PhD from Princeton University. Professor Cowley's post-doctoral work was at Culham and he returned to Princeton in 1987. He joined the faculty at the University of California Los Angeles in 1993, rising to the rank of Full Professor in 2000. From 2001 to 2003 he led the plasma physics group at Imperial College, London. He remains a part time professor at Imperial College. He has published over 100 papers and articles. Professor Cowley co-chaired the US National Academy's decadal assessment of, and outlook for, plasma science: Plasma Science: Advancing Knowledge in the National Interest (National Academy Press 2007). He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society and the Institute of Physics, and the recipient of the IOP's 2012 Glazebrook Medal for leadership in physics. In June 2011, Professor Cowley was appointed to the Prime Minister's Council for Science and Technology.

Tim Abram joined the University in 2008 as the first holder of the Westinghouse Chair in Nuclear Fuel Technology. Prior to this appointment he gained over 21 years experience in the nuclear fuels and research sectors, both in the UK and the USA. He led the team at BNFL responsible for the fuel rod design and safety analysis for the UK's most recent nuclear power station, Sizewell B, and for the UK's first export order for mixed (U,Pu) oxide fuel (MOX). He has experience in the design, performance and safety analysis of all major fuel types, and in the development of computer codes for the analysis of in-reactor fuel performance. He has participated in over 15 European Framework research programmes in nuclear fuel and reactor technology, and is the UK's representative on the IAEA Technical Group on Fast Reactors and Accelerator-Driven Systems. He was co-author of the Fuels and Materials section of the Generation-IV Roadmap, and has actively participated in the programme since its inception in 2000, most recently as the Euratom representative and Co-Chair of the VHTR Project Management Board for Fuel and Fuel Cycle research. Prior to joining the University, Prof. Abram was the Senior Research Fellow for Fuels and Reactor Systems at the UK's National Nuclear Laboratory, where he retains the position of Associate Fellow.

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