Archive for October, 2023

How can we achieve a sustainable nuclear fuel cycle?

Posted on: October 11th, 2023 by mlpEditor

What new technologies are being developed to minimise the long-term storage of spent nuclear fuels?

Nuclear power is very clean and carbon neutral. But spent nuclear fuel has a storage lifetime of 300,000 years.

Reprocessing used nuclear fuel is currently carried out on large scale using the “Plutonium Uranium Reduction and Extraction” (PUREX) process. During this process, the fuel is reduced to 15% of its original weight and the extracted uranium and plutonium are used as “Mixed Oxide Fuel”. This has been carried out at scale by the UK at Sellafield (now curtailed) and continues in France at La Hague.

The residual high-level waste has a storage lifetime of 9,000 years. Much of the remainder of the long-term radiotoxicity of the residual waste is due to traces (0.1%of the original fuel) of the minor actinides. Separating these minor actinides from the chemically very similar lanthanides and other fission products is the next key step in the future reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel.

So, what’s the challenge? The actinides can be used as a fuel in the next generation of nuclear reactors and converted into benign products. But the accompanying lanthanides would “poison” the reactor, causing it to shut down.

In this recording of an online talk, Laurence Harwood reports on the important progress that has been made in the advanced reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel. The used fuel need not be a liability but a source of yet more power.

Message from the President – October 2023

Posted on: October 3rd, 2023 by mlpEditor

October 2023


Thank you for taking the time to read my first monthly update. I want to thank everyone for the warm welcome, support and advice. I assure you I will work with the Council to serve Manchester, the Lit & Phil and its members as we move forward and evolve. 


Thank you to our past officers and President


Firstly, I want to acknowledge everyone who left or took office following the elections at the AGM. The passion and energy displayed by our Trustees is one of the reasons the Lit & Phil is well into its 242nd year.


I would also like to highlight the contribution of Ian Cameron, whose time as President has seen us take stock and begin a journey of change. Ian has already committed a tremendous amount of time to the Lit & Phil. And, to ensure continuity, he has agreed to take on the Vice Presidency. Please join me in thanking him for his ongoing commitment to our development. And thanks must also go to his wife, Sue, for her support.


Manchester, the slave trade & the Manchester Lit & Phil 


Did you attend our event on 27th September: Manchester, the slave trade and the Manchester Lit & Phil? Professor Erinma Bell MBE, DL, JP, chaired a special guest panel that discussed the implications of the UCLan research report, which looked at the historical links that early Lit & Phil members had to the slave trade.


The event was well-attended, thought-provoking and powerful. And I was grateful to the panel for making several practical suggestions regarding our future response.


Our next event, in response to the findings of the UCLan research report, with Professor Robert Beckford, takes place in December. Former Vice President Tony Jackson and the team are discussing our next steps and actions.


Moving Forward


It is hard to believe that I met Ian for the first time on July 14th, having only heard about the Manchester Lit & Phil a week earlier. Over the last weeks, I have tried to meet as many members as possible, listened to people’s views and concerns and immersed myself in the society’s rich history. Over the next quarter, I will continue this journey with the membership, Council, Sections, and our team to develop our strategic plan and operating model.


Many of you know that Aude Nguyen Duc, our Finance and Operations Manager, will leave us in November after five years of working for the Lit & Phil. Aude has been a real asset to the society during a challenging period. We all wish her well for her future.


As a result of Aude’s departure, the focus for the next month will be on ensuring we have operational continuity and that our governance processes are robust and up to date.  


A call to action


The lifeblood of the Lit & Phil is its membership and events. One of my first takeaways is that many of our members were introduced by a friend, attended one or two events, and then joined.


On that basis, I ask you to share details of our upcoming events with your friends and invite them to an event. We’re regularly adding new events to our programme, and I’m sure they’ll see something that interests them.


Peter Wright 


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