UK invests £10 M in a joint project with the US

11 March 2019

The United Kingdom is investing nearly £10 M (about USD 12.7 M) in a joint project with the United States to harness existing particle physics research techniques to remotely monitor nuclear reactors.

Expected to be operational in 2024, the Advanced Instrumentation Testbed (AIT) project’s 6,500-ton detector will measure the harmless subatomic particles called antineutrinos that are emitted by an existing nuclear power plant 25 km, or about 15.5 miles, away. The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) are partners in the research effort.

The project will test whether the technique could be scaled up in the future for more distant monitoring of nuclear sites, with the potential for nonproliferation applications.

The AIT detector is called WATCHMAN, an acronym for the WATer CHerenkov Monitor of ANtineutrinos. AIT-WATCHMAN will be supported by the Boulby Underground Laboratory, an existing multidisciplinary deep-underground science facility operated by the UK’s Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC).

The UK and U.S. have a long history of scientific collaboration, especially in translating the techniques used for basic science to solve real-world problems.

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