Key role for Scientific Machine Learning in transforming nuclear power generation in the digital age
02 Apr 2021



The Science and Technology and Facilities Council (STFC) will help develop the new digital technology required for nuclear power plant components in the future.


​​​Nuclear Po​wer Plant


The UK Government has today announced £2.5 million of new funding to develop the digital technology required for a step-change in the design, fabrication, and in-service assessment of nuclear power plant components. STFC will be playing a key role through its Scientific Computing Department.

Led by the University of Bristol, the five-year Prosperity Partnership, entitled Synergistic utilisation of INformatics and Data centRic Integrity engineering (SINDRI), is a consortium of academic and industrial experts who will help to reduce the cost of future low-carbon energy generation as part of the drive to achieve a Net Zero carbon economy.

Delivering and operating safe and economic, major low-carbon energy generation assets, including nuclear power plants, can be achieved by updating, streamlining and automating their design, fabrication and life-time assessment.

This partnership, working with nuclear industry supply chain organisations, aims to develop cutting-edge digital tools that will simulate the behaviour of materials from their first use to the end of their life. Over the course of the research programme, the partnership will create seven new research roles, and incorporate eighteen PhD studentships

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council has awarded funding of £2.5 million to the University of Bristol and partner organisations EDF (the main industry partner), University of Manchester and Imperial College London for the project. SINDRI will be supported by a further £5 million from a number of other project partners. 

One of these is STFC, which will also provide Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) expertise and computational resources via its Scientific Computing Department (SCD).  These are ​essential for the success of the project.

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said:

 “By using digital innovation to assess large energy generators such as nuclear power plants, this ingenious collaboration spearheaded by EDF and the University of Bristol will ensure the successful operation of low carbon energy generation buildings, ultimately helping the UK to meet its net zero ambitions. 

“This is part of our efforts to put the funding and structures in place to ensure we build back better through innovation, drive local economic growth and cement the UK's status as a science superpower."​

​Dr Jeyan Thiyagalingam, who leads SCD's Scientific Machine Learning (SciML) Group and is also one of the SINDRI co-investigators, said:

 “We'll be providing the necessary knowledge and expertise on AI and ML technologies to the SINDRI project.  We will be using the PEARL platform as the key AI compute resource towards this project, and will also be hosting Post-Doctoral Research Assistants working on the project as necessary to share the expertise of the group. We're very pleased to be able to make this contribution to the project."

PEARL is an exceptionally powerful AI system, hosted and managed by SCD in partnership with the Alan Turing Institute, which provides funding through its AI for Science Initiative.

The SINDRI project harnesses world-leading expertise from The Alan Turing Institute, The Henry Royce Institute and STFC's Scientific Computing Department. It aims to develop models and building blocks for digital twins that can be used to assess the condition of physical assets and the need for maintenance or remedial work. It will help to improve safety and reduce costs.

​More information: 

  • Both the Engineering and Physical Science Research Council and Science and Technology Facilities Council are part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).
  • The SINDRI project partners include STFC, Jacobs National Nuclear Laboratory, United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority, Henry Royce Institute, and the Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre.
  • Read more about this and other Prosperity Partnerships in the Government announcement.​

​Media Contact: 

Amy Pollock​

Science Communications Officer, STFC

Mob: +44 (0) 7557 317200


Contact: O'Sullivan, Marion (STFC,RAL,SC)