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Central England Branch - YGN Speaking Competition



Central England Branch YGN Speaking Competition 2018 – Challenging topics and a great turn out! 

The Central England Branch (CEB) Young Generation Network (YGN) Speaking Competition was held on 26 April 2018 with six speakers presenting on a nuclear energy related topic. The competition was introduced by Mehdi Askarieh, chair of CEB and co-conducted with Saralyn Thomas, CEB YGN representative. Saralyn also gave a short presentation on YGN activities in the branch, showcasing CEBs successes in this area with its outreach programme and YGN events.

The key objective of the event was to give the speakers the opportunity to demonstrate their communication skills before a live audience, with the emphasis on effective presentation.  Topics presented were interesting, diverse and of an extremely high standard with speakers representing a wide range of companies in the CEB region. The presentations given were:

“Improving Fission Fuels: The role of thermal conductivity” – Ed Darnbrough, University of Oxford

“Role of the Environmental Regulator in Radiological Emergencies” – Chris Mogg, EA

“Exercise Planning: Playing a pawn against a king” – Danielle Watson, AWE

 “Could you outrun a criticality accident? The importance of criticality warning systems” – Elizabeth Watson, AWE

”Another type of hole in the ground – An alternative to a GDF” – Gareth Horton, Orano

“The Challenge of Harnessing the Power of Turbulence in a Fusion Reactor” – Sara Moradi, UKAEA

First place and a prize of £300 was awarded to Ed Darnbrough who’s presentation provided the audience with an understanding of how thermal conductivity affects the efficiency and safety of nuclear fuel. For instance, poor thermal conductivity in fuel is an issue in loss of coolant accidents like Fukushima as the center of the fuel becomes sufficiently hot that it can melt through the reactor vessel. Ed then gave an overview of new fuels being developed using metallic uranium compounds (nitrides, carbides and silicides). Ed will be representing CEB at the National Final in September 2018 in Manchester.

Joint second place was awarded to Chris Mogg and Danielle Watson. Chris explained that, in addition to civil or nuclear defence sites, the EA are involved in radiological emergencies at non-nuclear sites e.g. hospitals with licences, and CBRN activities concerning the hostile uses of radioactive material – a topical subject due to the recent Salisbury incident. Chris explained changes to legislation that are likely due to the UK’s present obligation to transport the European Council’s 2013/59/Euratom Directive. These will be conveyed in BSSD Articles on environmental protection in emergencies and the IAEA’s Safety Standards.

Danielle Watson’s presentation explained that nuclear forensics uses analytical techniques to determine the provenance of radioactive materials outside of regulatory control, in support of law enforcement. The provenance process combined with a Master Event Scenario List, a form of exercise planning, is used which involves continuous interpretation of the data and comparisons to databases; drawing upon subject matter experts (SMEs) to reach a conclusion. Danielle likened these SMEs to chess pieces and that the process describes the different pieces and rules but provides no winning strategy for nuclear forensics, and similarly chess. Danielle and Chris will receive a prize of £150 each (sharing second and third place prize money of a £200 and £100 respectively).

Elizabeth Watson began her presentation by questioning the use of criticality warning systems (CMS) when a criticality event could occur in a fraction of a second, making it impossible for anyone – even Usain Bolt – to outpace. A CMS is in fact a mitigative measure rather than preventative, encouraging immediate evacuation of a facility to increase the chance of survival from secondary spikes, daughter products and activation. Elizabeth also discussed the omission of a CMS while working with fissile material, justifiable by the maximum credible dose and likelihood of a criticality occurring.

A summary of the UK’s nuclear legacy and its subsequent waste inventory was given by Gareth Horton, who questioned whether there was beyond reasonable doubt that a geological disposal facility (GDF) will be built in the UK, as advised in the Flower’s report before a commitment to a large programme of nuclear fission power can be made. The potential merits of deep borehole disposal over a GDF were discussed, noting the utilization of the geology itself and the increased number of localities a deep borehole could be implemented in.

Sara discussed the complex and seemingly random behavior of turbulence in a fusion reactor, explaining it promotes the removal of energy dictated by the 2nd law of thermodynamics. The generation of turbulence is of practical importance in the design of the combustion chamber of a gas turbine and assessment of the stability of a fusion plasma. To assess turbulence in these conditions, Sara stressed there must be a method for predicting the behaviour of turbulence which is currently an unsolved and exciting challenge in fusion research.

The committee would like to thank all speakers for their presentations and congratulate them on the very high standard at the event. Thank you also to the judges who had a very difficult task on their hands! For more information on the event or YGN activities in the branch, please contact the YGN representative (


CEB YGN Speaking Competition 2018 Finalists With Branch Chairman, Mehdi Askarieh and CEB YGN Representative, Saralyn Thomas.

From left to right:

Danielle Watson, Gareth Horton, Ed Darnbrough, Elizabeth Watson, Mehdi Askarieh, Sara Moradi, Chris Mogg, Saralyn Thomas.

ceb 2

Ed Darnbrough, winner of CEBs YGN Speaking Competition giving his winning presentation.

Nuclear Institute Central England Branch, 30 May 2018