Post Doctorate Scheme 2023 – Scientist – Graphite / Core Materials – Sellafield, Cumbria

Post Doctorate Scheme 2023 – Scientist – Graphite / Core Materials


Sellafield, Cumbria


Job Introduction

NNL is where your understanding of reactors fuels the nation. As part of our Fuel Reactor & Reprocessing capability, you’ll play a vital role in developing the UK fuel cycle in line with advances in new technology and new processes. As old reactors reach the end of their lifespan, we need experts like you, with the technical skills to virtually model scenarios that not only enable us to explore new ways of managing the inputs and outputs of reactors, but also pave the way for the implementation of smaller, cleaner revolutionary new reactors. This is a place where you can use your knowledge and expertise to do long term meaningful work for years to come. 

As the national laboratory for nuclear fission in the UK, we are harnessing nuclear science to solve some of the world’s biggest challenges. 

High Temperature Reactors (HTR) is a strategically important activity in the UK Government’s plans to significantly reduce carbon emissions and aligns with NNL’s purpose to help the UK achieve net-zero carbon emissions. One of the key challenges, requiring collaboration and oversight to ensure the success of HTRs, is the graphite core. 

As the current fleet of graphite moderated Advanced Gas-Cooled Reactors (AGR) reach the end of life, specialised assessments are required to support safe operation. 

With the largest volumes of irradiated graphite waste and the most experienced graphite specialists, the UK has the opportunity to be a world leader in decommissioning graphite cores from existing plant and new HTRs. 

To join the NNL Post Doctorate programme you will have a PhD in Physics, Mathematics, Materials Science or Mechanical Engineering. Experience with graphite materials would be advantageous.  

You will have the ability to obtain SC level security clearance (this includes but is not limited to identity, employment, financial and criminal record checks plus 5 years’ worth of UK residency).

This is a growing area and there is a need to develop the next generation of expertise to fulfil the growing market demand, for on-going reactors, design of new reactors and graphite decommissioning in the UK and internationally. In this role you will undertake analysis and develop new methods to characterise and model graphite behaviour to support the forementioned activities.

Role Responsibility

We are developing the next generation of technical experts. Not only will you receive the opportunity to work on challenging and exciting projects, but you’ll continually learn from skilled and knowledgeable industry experts who are leaders in their field. We will help you become everything you can be, by challenging, stretching, and pushing you to your limits while supporting you every step of the way.

NNL is looking for a scientist to support our work on Graphite technology for existing operating reactors, new reactor designs as well as graphite waste management and decommissioning. The role sits within the NNL’s Graphite team part of the Fuels, Reactors and Reprocessing capability. 

You will be required to undertake a range of activities related to understanding the behaviour of irradiated graphite for the safe and continuous operation of reactor cores and providing advice on the future management and disposal of irradiated graphite from nuclear reactors. A big part of the current work is focused on measurements, characterisation and development of new methods for irradiated graphite. The team is also supporting R&D activities on HTRs and reactor core decommissioning. The team actively participates in international activities, including those led by the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency), ASTM International and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME).

Activities will include desk-based assessments and experimental work in both non-radioactive and radioactive laboratories. As part of the role, you will be expected to interface with a wide range of people in other NNL teams, UK and international customer organisations and UK universities. In addition, there may be an opportunity to work in other related areas within NNL to broaden expertise and apply relevant knowledge to Graphite technology.

You may be required to travel to customer or supplier sites. Opportunities for wider engagement in international research will become available as you develop comprehensive knowledge of relevant topic areas.

NNL recognises that academia and industry are very different environments, our Postdoctoral Development Scheme will smooth the transition whilst supporting you as you take your first steps towards becoming a Subject Matter Expert.

Your two-year scheme will provide the opportunity to develop your technical knowledge and skills whilst providing you with an insight into NNL’s strategy and direction. You will receive an overview of how the company operates and delivers its projects. 

You will undertake personal development through training aligned to your personal development plan and understand your strengths, weaknesses, and behaviours. You will receive a personal budget to support your development within your field of expertise. 

From day one you’ll have a role in a technical team involved in delivering real customer projects. You will have direct sight of the value that your skills and knowledge have to our industry and by extension our society. The Postdoctoral Development Scheme runs alongside your role, providing you the space and skills to develop in a commercial environment whilst helping you decide how to advance your technical expertise.

Our two-year programme is designed to give you:

An introduction to NNL so you understand where we sit in the wider context of the nuclear industry and how we work

An introduction to the technical expertise at the core of our business so you understand how your expertise interrelates with our wider technical portfolio

A clear pathway of technical development

Commercial awareness of the Business Operations of NNL

Opportunity to network with mid-career professionals and experts

Mentoring to achieve chartered status with your chosen professional body

A choice of development activities tailored to you and your career aspirations

Membership of a cohort of early career professionals to provide support in developing within the company

The support of a dedicated early careers team and our strong, thriving early careers community.

You will be based at our Central Laboratory, the most modern and advanced facility of its kind in the world. On the doorstep of the Lake District National Park ( our Sellafield site offer you the opportunity to work with incredible people on extraordinary projects whilst enjoying some of the most unique and beautiful landscapes the UK has to offer, providing an excellent quality of life.

As part of the selection process for the Post Doctorate programme you will complete a Technical Interview against the skills and competencies required for this role. 

About the Company

Grounded in robust science and decades of experience, National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL) is the authoritative voice in the UK and beyond for technological development within the nuclear power sector.

Our unparalleled understanding of the science, challenges and opportunities makes us an unrivalled authority and partner in the field, providing experts, technologies, and access to cutting-edge facilities to organisations around the world.

Harnessing potential technologies and translating them into to industry-ready solutions means our pioneering approach spearheads international improvement and technological progress.

We work on projects as small as drilling a hole to analyse underground wastes with our integrated micro drilling technology, or as large as developing state-of-the-art power systems for spacecraft, based on radioactive materials

NNL has a vision for Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity (ED&I) where NNL aims to be an inclusive workplace that attracts diverse talent through transparent and equal policies and procedures. We want you and the diverse mix of people that we employ, customers that we service and stakeholders that we influence to feel valued. We encourage a workplace culture where everyone can thrive with a sense of belonging.

Recruitment Agency Notice

We operate a strict Preferred Supplier List (PSL) for the provision of recruitment services. Only agencies on our PSL may provide CVs and only when the role is released to them by our recruitment team. We will not accept unsolicited CVs from suppliers not currently on our PSL. We explicitly reserve the right to add candidate details from unsolicited CVs from non-PSL agencies into our own candidate database and to pursue/hire such candidate(s) without any obligation, financial or otherwise, to the agency concerned.

National Nuclear Laboratory



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