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Research could improve nuclear power plant safety - and stop your kettle furring up

Taking inspiration from nature, researchers have created a versatile model to predict how stalagmite-like structures form in nuclear processing plants – as well as how lime scale builds up in kettles.

“It’s a wonderful example of how complex mathematical models can have everyday applications,” said Dr Duncan Borman, from the School of Civil Engineering at the University of Leeds, a co-author of the study.  

The main aim of the research, which is published in print today in the journal Computers & Chemical Engineering, is to reduce the number of potentially harmful manual inspections of nuclear waste containers.

We were approached by the National Nuclear Laboratory and Sellafield Ltd to solve the problem of predicting the shapes that precipitates from nuclear process solutions can form in containment chambers,” said Dr Borman.

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“For the first time it was possible to predict the morphology of these complex crystallising flows reliably.”

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