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Dounreay - UKAEA History - The First Fifty Years By Andy Munn
UKAEA At Dounreay
Aspects Of The
Early History On The Site
UKAEA – THE FIRST FIFTY YEARS
The Coming of Diversification
The main feature was the broadening of UKAEA’s powers to permit it to undertake non-nuclear research and development. Up to this point, UKAEA’s activities had been solely focussed on the production of nuclear weapons and the development of civil nuclear power. However, there was an inherent tendency for nuclear R&D to lead into non-nuclear activities, such as instrumentation, special steels and fabrication techniques and leading-edge heat transfer technology which found applications in industry.
Other drivers for the diversification programme were the surplus capacity in the form of too many staff resulting from changes in the nuclear requirements and the new political agenda for Britain which UKAEA was called upon to assist. In keeping with the spirit of Harold Wilson’s “white heat of technology”, the Government wanted to align Britain’s public sector with the goals for industry.
It culminated in the 1965 Science and Technology Act, which gave UKAEA the power to undertake scientific research unconnected with atomic energy. The following year Walter Marshall became deputy director of Harwell and the pace of change quickened. UKAEA’s commercial development was becoming reality with the eventual formation of a business providing consultancy services and products to a wide range of industries including transport, chemicals and oil and gas.
In addition, the Energy Technology Support Unit was set up at Harwell to provide advice on energy options in response to issues arising from the growing energy crisis of the early 1970s.
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