NNUF funded user access scheme: overview and workflow

Left to right: scientist at University of Manchester Dalton Cumbrian Facility; actinide complex in solution at Centre for Radiochemistry Research; MRF hot cell wall; aerial view of Diamond Light Source; Multimodal thermal analysis in the HADES facility

News flash: The NNUF access scheme has been extended by a year, until early 2024.

The UK Government has provided £6.5m of funding to allow any UK-based university researcher (or employee of other organizations eligible to apply for UKRI funding) to apply to access facilities affiliated with NNUF. Many of these facilities are now up and running, whilst others are in the process of being set up. (Applications from international academics may also be eligible: please see the rules of the scheme for further details).
The facilities are free at the point of access for successful applicants under this scheme. Applications for access will be reviewed by the NNUF Management Group, and accepted on the basis of scientific merit. Application rounds are run quarterly. The 12th call (to cover access commencing primarily in the period July - September 2023) is now open, and will close at 23:59 on Wednesday 31st May 2023.
Experiments applied for under the NNUF access scheme can last up to 6 months in length.


NNUF access funding can cover users' travel and subsistence costs, sample/equipment transport, insurance etc. As a new development, we are now also able to cover student researchers' UK conference costs when presenting the outcomes of their NNUF-funded access (i.e. travel, subsistence and conference fees). Please upload estimated expenses when submitting your application form.

Costs estimated and claimed should be in line with the University of Oxford's travel, accommodation and subsistence guidelines.

    The access scheme will run until early 2024. If you are planning to use NNUF facilities after this date, you will need to build in funding for this access as part of a responsive mode or programmatic application to EPSRC, or in applications to other funding bodies.



    Workflow to follow when applying for access funded by NNUF

    Please note that the following workflow applies to all NNUF facilities, with the exception of the Diamond Active Materials Laboratory, when used in conjunction with beamtime. Please consult the Diamond page on this website for information about how to apply for NNUF access funds for Diamond.

    There is also a special process to follow for those who have been awarded access by NNL as part of their 2020/2021 “nuclear fuel and recycle” call. Please consult the NNL page on this website for further details.

    1. Please contact the facility directly, mentioning that you are enquiring in connection with the NNUF funded access scheme.

    • Discuss with them the practical feasibility of conducting your research at their facility/using their equipment (e.g. can your research question be addressed using their facility? How many days of experimental work would this be likely to involve? Is the facility likely to be available during the time period you had in mind? What training / support with operation do they provide? What are their health and safety requirements?) Please use the facility feasibility checklist to structure these discussions.
    • Some facilities may have their own quality-checking process, even for applications which will go on to be submitted for the NNUF funded user access scheme. They will let you know if your research proposal needs to pass the facility's own quality control checks at this point.


    2. In order to be considered for funding under the NNUF access scheme, you will then need to complete a simple application form, in which you should emphasise the relevance of your proposed work to the UK's nuclear mission. When completing the application form, you will be asked to include an email exchange between yourself and the facility in question, confirming the feasibility of undertaking your proposed research using the facility. Please ensure that the facility has seen and approved the final version of your application form before you submit it to NNUF.


    3. On a quarterly basis, the Management Group will review all applications received, using scientific merit as the primary metric. The Management Group will inform applicants, and the manager of the selected facility, of the outcome of all applications.

    N.B. Rapid turnaround for small awards: applications for modest amounts of access can be submitted (via the normal application form) at any time, and will receive a rapid response from the NNUF Management Group. You do not need to wait for the closing date of an NNUF call. Please contact the facility you would like to access - they will advise whether your application would fall into this category.


    4. If your application is successful, you will then be encouraged to liaise with the facility directly to arrange your use of the facility. The NNUF Management Group must be notified when the dates of your access have been arranged. Once your access has taken place, the NNUF Management Group will transfer directly to the facility the necessary funds (day rates etc.) to cover your use of the facility; and any (usually UK-based) travel, subsistence costs, sample/equipment transport costs, insurance, conference fees etc. to you.


    5. After your use of the facility you will need to:

    • Complete a feedback form detailing the research undertaken, the number of days for which you used the facility, how many members of your research team took part in the experiment etc.
    • Cite NNUF in any publications, reports, patents or other “outputs” which result from your research, and notify the NNUF Management Group (by emailing francesca.mcgowan@materials.ox.ac.uk), and the facility, when any such “outputs” occur. Please respond in a timely manner to enquiries from the NNUF Management Group and NNUF facilities on these matters, as this information is required for our reporting to EPSRC and the UK government.

    If you work in industry, or work outside the UK (or if you do not wish to apply for access funded by NNUF for any other reason), you do not need to apply via this website. Please contact the facility directly. They will have their own access application process to use in such cases.

    Further information

    For further information about the access scheme as a whole, please contact Francesca McGowan, NNUF Administrator, University of Oxford (francesca.mcgowan@materials.ox.ac.uk), who would be delighted to assist or advise in any way on behalf of the NNUF Management Group. The Management Group's aim is to ensure that the access funding available is used to encourage as many scientists and engineers from as many institutions as possible to make use of NNUF facilities during the lifetime of the project.

    For further information about individual NNUF facilities, please contact the facility directly using the contact details provided on each facility page. The facility managers share our enthusiasm for ensuring the facilities are used by as many researchers as possible – they will be very pleased to hear from potential applicants.