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Department of Mechanical, Aerospace and Civil Engineering

Nuclear facilities

We conduct mechanical analysis, radiolytical analysis, thermophysical analysis, mass spectrometry and manufacturing technology research.

Mechanical analysis suite

Helium pycnometer

The Micromeritics Accupyc II 1340 helium pycnometer is a highly accurate system to determine volume of samples through gas displacement measurements. This allows for the analysis of irregular shaped specimens, determination of material porosity and indirect measurement of sample density. It can be used for monolithic parts, powders and liquids.

Resonant frequency and dampening analyser

The RFDA system manufactured by IMCE is a highly accurate system for the determination of elastic properties of materials through the analysis of resonant frequencies after impulse excitation.

The system can be used to determine the Dynamic Young's Modulus, the Shear Modulus, the Poisson Ratio and the internal friction/dampening coefficient of a specimen.

Surface area analyser

The TriStar 3020 surface area analyser is used to determine the surface area of sample materials via gas adsorption at different pressures (BET Analysis). This can provide information on chemical or combustion dynamics, leaching processes and micro-pore identification. It is capable of analysing monolithic, powdered or liquid samples.

Ultrasonic elasticity measurement system

This system is built around an Olympus/Panametrics 9300 Series Pulser/Receiver system and an NI High Speed Data Capture Card and is used to measure Dynamic Young's Modulus, Shear Modulus and Poisson Ratio via the determination of the speed of ultrasonic pulses in materials. The system is capable of operating at 1 and 5 MHz.

High accuracy balances

Due to sample sizes employed, a number of highly accurate balances are utilised, allowing weight determination down to 0.0001mg.

Laser marking system

For a number of reasons it is often required to produce reliable and durable identification markings on samples and materials that are subsequently processed, eroded or otherwise stressed, or it is necessary to provide well identifiable orientation or directional markings for X-ray analysis or similar techniques. The best possible, low impact techniques developed for this purpose is laser marking/engraving. For this purpose we employ a 10W Laservall Violino 1,064nm laser marking system.

Radiolytical analysis suite

Radiolytical system

The radiolytical analysis suite in our material labs is capable of processing a wide variety of materials and can provide information on isotope inventories and radionuclide contaminants. This is achieved through a suite of instruments, including a gamma spectrometer, liquid scintillation counters and a range of counting tubes and contamination monitors, as well as appropriate preparation and handling facilities such as glove boxes, fume cupboards, polishers etc.

These systems are cleared for work with radionuclide based materials.

Leaching facilities

The analytical suite includes facilities to simulate and monitor the release of radionuclide contaminants into aqueous solutions and, as such, provides the capability of long-term assessments of potential environmental releases.

Thermophysical analysis suite

Simultaneous thermal analyser

The Netzsch STA 449 F1 system is a thermal analysis system that combines the functions of a differential scanning calorimeter and a thermogravimetrical analyser in one unit. It can be utilised in the determination of heat capacity data, oxidation behaviour, phase transition analysis or thermochemical dynamics. Analyses can be carried out under sealed vacuum conditions as well as a variety of process gases. The highly accurate Pt/Rh furnace allows for analysis temperatures of over 1,750K.


The Netzsch DIL 402 C Dilatometer is capable of measuring the thermal expansion of materials, as well as detecting the softening and glass transition points of materials. The system is vacuum tight and can utilise a variety of applications.

Laser flash analyser

The Netzsch LFA 457 laser flash analyser is used to determine thermal diffusivity, thermal conductivity and specific heat capacity of materials. The system permits tests under controlled atmospheres and can be operated up to 1,350K.

Mass spectrometry suite

The mass spectrometry suite in the fuels and materials lab consists of a modern Agilent 5000 Series GC/MS and a 7000 Series ICP/MS with a solid sample laser evaporator. For high accuracy work the output from the GC system can be fed into the ICP/MS system for differentiated analysis.