William J. Nuttall

The Open University (UK), Milton Keynes, England, United Kingdom

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Publications (63)207.11 Total impact

  • Matthew Rooney, William J. Nuttall, Nikolaos Kazantzis
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    ABSTRACT: In order to study the global uranium market, a dynamic model for the period 1990–2050 has been developed. It incorporates globally aggregated stocks and flows of uranium moving through the nuclear fuel cycle, as well as a price formation mechanism. Analysis illustrates some of the key features of the market for this commodity, including the role that time lags play in the formation of price volatility. Specific demand reduction and substitution strategies and technologies are explored, and potential external shocks are simulated to investigate the effect on price and how the uranium mining industry responds. Sensitivity analysis of key model parameters indicates that the time constant related to the formation of traders׳ expectations of future market prices embedded in the proposed price discovery mechanism has a strong influence on both the amplitude and frequency of price peaks. Finally, our analysis leads us to believe that the existing uranium resource base will be sufficient to satisfy demand well into the second half of the 21st century.
    Resources Policy. 03/2015; 43.
  • William J. Nuttall, Peter Storey
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    ABSTRACT: The paper describes current policy issues relating to a range of nuclear research reactors. The benefits of, and the need for, such reactors are described including in areas such as medicine and energy research. Emphasis is given to the potential risks in the areas of security and non-proliferation. Assessment is made of future technology policy options for the United Kingdom and the opportunity of a developing a new highly proliferation resistant reactor is explored. The possibility of collaborating with another country in such an endeavour is considered.
    Progress in Nuclear Energy 11/2014; 77:201–213. · 0.70 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: In this study, we have sought to determine the advantages, disadvantages, and viability of open cycle thorium–uranium-fuelled (Th–U-fuelled) nuclear energy systems. This has been done by assessing three such systems, each of which requires uranium enriched to ∼20% 235U, in comparison to a reference uranium-fuelled (U-fuelled) system over various performance indicators, spanning material flows, waste composition, economics, and proliferation resistance. The values of these indicators were determined using the UK National Nuclear Laboratory’s fuel cycle modelling code ORION. This code required the results of lattice-physics calculations to model the neutronics of each nuclear energy system, and these were obtained using various nuclear reactor physics codes and burn-up routines. In summary, all three Th–U-fuelled nuclear energy systems required more separative work capacity than the equivalent benchmark U-fuelled system, with larger levelised fuel cycle costs and larger levelised cost of electricity. Although a reduction of ∼6% in the required uranium ore per kWh was seen for one of the Th–U-fuelled systems compared to the reference U-fuelled system, the other two Th–U-fuelled systems required more uranium ore per kWh than the reference. Negligible advantages and disadvantages were observed for the amount and the properties of the spent nuclear fuel (SNF) generated by the systems considered. Two of the Th–U-fuelled systems showed some benefit in terms of proliferation resistance of the SNF generated. Overall, it appears that there is little merit in incorporating thorium into nuclear energy systems operating with open nuclear fuel cycles.
    Annals of Nuclear Energy 03/2014; 69:314–330. · 0.80 Impact Factor
  • Ettore Bompard, Marcelo Masera, William J. Nuttall
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    ABSTRACT: •Electricity smart and super grids could undermine, rather than reinforce, one another.•Complexities shaping the future grid are more than those from within the grid itself.•The conceptual framework for assessing emerging electricity systems must shift.•Electricity policy makers and managers must take a holistic and complexity-based view.
    Technological Forecasting and Social Change 01/2014; · 1.71 Impact Factor
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  • Ettore Bompard, Marcelo Masera, William J Nuttall
    Nature 08/2013; 500(7462):276. · 38.60 Impact Factor
  • B.A. Glowacki, W.J. Nuttall, R.H. Clarke
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    ABSTRACT: Helium plays a central role in superconductivity. Despite breakthroughs in high-temperature superconducting materials, helium remains the coolant of choice. Against this there is concern about helium shortages. Global geological helium reserves are estimated to be approximately 8 million tons and are mainly in the U.S., Qatar, Algeria, and Russia. Annual helium production from natural gas runs at approximately 30 000 tons and is distributed across a few players, both public and private: the U.S. government, Air Liquide, Air Products, Linde Group, Matheson, Messer, and Praxair. Currently, the natural gas industry focuses insufficiently on the helium that remains blended throughout the gas supply chain until it is “vented” upon combustion. This constrains new supply development. These factors combine to create waves of market anxiety. Consideration of demand reveals a diversity of government, public, and private buyers each of whom perceives their needs, and how much they are willing to pay, differently. For more than 100 years, researchers in low-temperature physics and especially superconductivity have been dependent on liquid helium supply. Currently the cryogenics and super-conductivity users consume ~ 29% of the global helium supply and 3/4 of that is taken by the magnetic resonance imaging/nuclear magnetic resonance market. These users are already responding to helium price increases by developing liquid cryogen-free technologies to gain independence from the helium market. The purpose of this article is to explore options facing the global helium industry and helium users in an attempt to answer the question: what is the future of helium and how would that influence the cryogenic and superconductivity market? We consider the future options for current users such as: discontinuing helium-related activities; continuing to pay higher helium prices; running expensive onsite storage/reliquefaction helium systems; deploying costly cryogen-free low-te- perature installation; influencing policy on the global industry extracting and distributing helium from natural gas or developing new, disruptive technologies that may reduce helium demand.
    IEEE Transactions on Applied Superconductivity 06/2013; 23(3):0500113-0500113. · 1.20 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: A comprehensive Net Present Value (NPV) model has been developed to demonstrate the economic advantages of process safety and risk reduction investments on Pd/Au-based membrane reactors. In particular, the economic viability of Pd/Au-based membrane reactor modules incorporated into Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) plants is evaluated within the aforementioned framework by pro-actively following sound process safety design principles. Sources of irreducible uncertainty (market, technological, operational) as well as safety risk are explicitly recognized, such as the Pd/Au prices, membrane life-time and loss in the power plant capacity factor due to possible accidents. The effect of the above uncertainty drivers on the membrane module cost along with production disruption and associated revenue losses is elucidated using Monte-Carlo simulation techniques that enable the propagation of the above uncertain inputs through the NPV-model, and therefore, generate a more realistic distribution of the process system's value rather than a single-point/estimate that overlooks these uncertainties. Pre-investment on risk reducing measures, such as spare safety relief systems (cautionary redundancy) for membrane reactor modules operating at high pressures (e.g. 50 atm), is shown to be economically more attractive than cases where analogous safety measures are not implemented. Since accidents and possibly catastrophic events do happen in an uncertain world, additional investment on safety measures could ensure a safer and more profitable operation of the process system under consideration giving credence to the thesis that process safety investments may result in enhanced techno-economic performance in the presence of irreducible uncertainties.
    Journal of Loss Prevention in the Process Industries 05/2013; 26(3):468–477. · 1.15 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Simple chemical pathways open up proliferation possibilities for the proposed nuclear 'wonder fuel', warn Stephen F. Ashley and colleagues.
    Nature 12/2012; 492(7427):31-33. · 38.60 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Pd/alloy-based (Pd/Cu, Pd/Au) membrane reactors embedded into Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) plants (IGCC-MR) enable the storage and/or use of the energy value of H2 to produce electricity while the CO2 enriched retentate exit stream becomes particularly suitable for high pressure CO2 capture-sequestration. There is undoubtedly a lack of operating experience associated with IGCC-MR plants, and therefore, sound process intensification principles/practices should be followed not only to enhance process system performance but also to ensure process safety and economic feasibility of an IGCC-MR plant. Motivated by the above considerations, a comprehensive process economic assessment framework for an inherently safe membrane Pd/alloy-based reactor integrated into an IGCC plant is proposed. In particular, a detailed Net Present Value (NPV) model has been developed to evaluate the economic viability of an IGCC-MR plant where the membrane reactor module design conforms to basic inherent safety principles. Sources of irreducible uncertainty (market, regulatory and technological) are explicitly recognized such as the power plant capacity factor, Pd price, membrane life time and CO2-taxes due to future regulatory action/policies. The effect of the above uncertainty drivers on the project's/plant's value is studied through Monte Carlo methods resulting in detailed NPV-distribution and process economic outcome profiles. The simulation results derived suggest that in the presence of (operational, economic and regulatory) uncertainties, inherently safe membrane reactor technology options integrated into IGCC plants could become economically viable. In particular, comparatively more attractive NPV distribution profiles are obtained when concrete safety risk-reducing measures are taken into account through pre-investment in process safety (equipment).
    Process Safety and Environmental Protection 09/2012; 90(5):436–450. · 1.50 Impact Factor
  • William J Nuttall, Richard H Clarke, Bartek A Glowacki
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    ABSTRACT: Establish a global agency to build a sustainable market for this precious commodity, say William J. Nuttall, Richard H. Clarke and Bartek A. Glowacki.
    Nature 05/2012; 485(7400):573-5. · 38.60 Impact Factor
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    S F Ashley, W J Nuttall, G T Parks, A Worrall
    UK PONI Annual Conference 2012: ‘Nuclear Stability: From the Cuban Crisis to the Energy Crisis’, HMS President, Victoria Embankment, EC4Y 0HJ; 05/2012
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    S. F. Ashley, R. A. Fenner, W. J. Nuttall
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    ABSTRACT: The potential for countries which currently have a nominal nuclear energy infrastructure to adopt thorium-uranium-fuelled nuclear energy systems, using a once-through “open” nuclear fuel cycle, has been presented by the International Atomic Energy Agency. This paper highlights Generation III and III+ nuclear energy technologies that could potentially adopt an open thorium-uranium fuel cycle and qualitatively highlights the main differences between the open thorium-uranium and open uranium fuel cycles. Furthermore, 28 indicators (and corresponding metrics) have been identified that could elucidate the advantages and disadvantages of nuclear energy systems which utilise thorium-uranium fuels in an open cycle. Such systems will be compared to an AREVA EPR operating with a once-through uranium fuel cycle. The indicators determined in this work have been drawn by grouping 270 indicators from eight previous studies of indicators associated with holistic and specific appraisals of the various life-cycle stages associated with the nuclear fuel cycle. The 28 indicators cover technoeconomic, environmental, waste, social, and proliferation-resistance themes and can be determined quantitatively, either by explicit determination or from an appropriate sensitivity analysis.
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    ABSTRACT: The need for policy makers to understand science and for scientists to understand policy processes is widely recognised. However, the science-policy relationship is sometimes difficult and occasionally dysfunctional; it is also increasingly visible, because it must deal with contentious issues, or itself becomes a matter of public controversy, or both. We suggest that identifying key unanswered questions on the relationship between science and policy will catalyse and focus research in this field. To identify these questions, a collaborative procedure was employed with 52 participants selected to cover a wide range of experience in both science and policy, including people from government, non-governmental organisations, academia and industry. These participants consulted with colleagues and submitted 239 questions. An initial round of voting was followed by a workshop in which 40 of the most important questions were identified by further discussion and voting. The resulting list includes questions about the effectiveness of science-based decision-making structures; the nature and legitimacy of expertise; the consequences of changes such as increasing transparency; choices among different sources of evidence; the implications of new means of characterising and representing uncertainties; and ways in which policy and political processes affect what counts as authoritative evidence. We expect this exercise to identify important theoretical questions and to help improve the mutual understanding and effectiveness of those working at the interface of science and policy.
    PLoS ONE 01/2012; 7(3):e31824. · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    R. Koc, N. K. Kazantzis, W. J. Nuttall, Y. H Ma
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    ABSTRACT: A detailed Net Present Value (NPV) model has been developed to evaluate the economic viability of an Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle – Membrane Reactor (IGCC-MR) power plant intended to provide an electricity generating and pure H2 (hydrogen) producing technology option with significantly lower air pollutants and CO2 (carbon dioxide) emission levels, where the membrane reactor module design conforms also to basic inherent safety principles. Sources of irreducible uncertainty (market, regulatory and technological) are explicitly recognized, such as the power plant capacity factor, Pd (palladium) price, membrane life-time and CO2 prices (taxes) due to future regulatory action/policies. The effect of the above uncertainty drivers on the project’s/plant’s value is elucidated using a Monte-Carlo simulation technique that enables the propagation of the above uncertain inputs through the NPV-model, and therefore, generate a more realistic distribution of the plant’s value rather than a single-point/estimate that overlooks these uncertainties. The simulation results derived suggest that in the presence of (operational, economic and regulatory) uncertainties, inherently safe membrane reactor technology options integrated into IGCC plants could become economically viable even in the absence of any valuation being placed on human life or quality of life by considering only equipment damage and interruption of business/lost production cost. Comparatively more attractive NPV distribution profiles are obtained when concrete safety risk-reducing measures are taken into account through pre-investment in process safety (equipment) in a pro-active manner, giving further credence to the thesis that process safety investments may result in enhanced economic performance in the presence of irreducible uncertainties.
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    Tao Zhang, William J. Nuttall
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    ABSTRACT: In this paper, we develop an agent-based model of a market game in order to evaluate the effectiveness of the U.K. government's 2008–2010 policy on promoting smart metering in the U.K. retail electricity market. We break down the policy into four possible policy options. With the model, we study the impact of the four policy options on the dynamics of smart metering diffusion and suggest policy implications. The context of the paper is a practical application of agent-based simulation to the retail electricity market in the United Kingdom. The contributions of the paper are both in the areas of policymaking for the promotion of innovation diffusion in the electricity market and in methodological use of agent-based simulation for studying the impact of policies on the dynamics of innovation diffusion.
    Journal of Product Innovation Management 02/2011; 28(2):169 - 186. · 1.57 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: This paper discusses analysis of the acute contractual cost of a failure to supply electricity from the perspective of power station owners. It presents a model for analysing the financial cost to an electricity supplier in the context of a national grid when a power station unexpectedly instantaneously shuts down. The model probabilistically samples historical market data and includes analysis of the impact on the system buy price of historic unplanned generator shutdowns. A case study is presented for a potential future nuclear power station concept, the Accelerator-Driven Subcritical Reactor (ADSR), in the UK market. The reliability of ADSRs is a key issue in their future development. The model is used to identify an upper limit on the amount an operator should be willing to pay for reliability improvements that mitigate unplanned shutdowns. The case study results are presented in a form that allows the reader to scale the cost of accelerator system failures for any capacity factor and coefficient of reliability, for a range of discount rates.Highlights► We explain the cost of failing to meet electricity supply contracts. ► The impact of historical generator failures on wholesale electricity prices is examined ► A method for predicting costs of individual generator failures is presented ► The life time cost of failures for Accelerator-Driven Subcritical Reactors is predicted ► A generator owner's willingness to pay for reliability improvements is predicted.
    Electric Power Systems Research 01/2011; 81(8):1662-1671. · 1.69 Impact Factor
  • William J. Nuttall, Matthias Holweg, Michael E. Leybovich
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    ABSTRACT: British industrial policy for two sectors (automotive and aerospace manufacture) in the period the 1960–1990 is considered and compared with the challenges facing the United Kingdom following the financial crisis of 2008. The history of the period 1960–1990 is informed by interviews with well-placed policy-makers of the time. These observations complement the historical record to confirm that British industrial policy was then more often a pragmatic response to events than the consequence of political ideology. Four particular phases of policy are observed: consolidation, investment, nationalisation and privatisation. During the decade 2000–2009 several British companies in banking, transport and energy have been subject to similar state interventions. In 2010 these companies are at various stages on the four step journey considered by the paper. The paper provides four lessons from the past for twenty-first century policy makers tasked with taking forward the companies with state investment and ensuring a return to economic prosperity.
    Technological Forecasting and Social Change - TECHNOL FORECAST SOC CHANGE. 01/2011; 78(8):1286-1298.
  • David M. Reiner, William J. Nuttall
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    ABSTRACT: Public acceptance of geological disposal of carbon dioxide (CO2) and that of radioactive waste (RW) are fundamentally different problems because of the history, scale and nature of the two issues. CO2 capture and storage (CCS) is a technology in its infancy with no full-scale commercial application and there are only a handful of full-scale storage projects globally. CO2 storage is almost completely unknown whereas RW disposal has been the subject of highly charged (often unresolved) political debates for decades and all matters nuclear are viewed as both the subject of fear and fascination in the broader cultural and political context. Nevertheless, there are some notable similarities, including: the difficulty of extricating not-in-my-backyard (NIMBY) considerations from other concerns; the inability to divorce the politics of waste streams from the underlying electricity generating technologies; the challenge of communicating the highly technical nature of both issues; and the role that both CO2 storage and RW play in the larger debate over energy policy, particularly as a proxy issue for non-governmental organizations. A key question identified is whether CCS will continue to be portrayed as the saviour of fossil fuels or whether it becomes an Achilles’ heel, much as resolving RW has become a necessary condition for further expansion of nuclear power. It is too early to draw any firm conclusions regarding the acceptability of CO2 storage because of the current low levels of awareness. Nevertheless, the nature of the CO2 storage problem tends to support the view that it will be less controversial than RW because of the large number of storage sites needed, public familiarity with CO2 and the need to resolve storage at the very beginning before CCS can proceed on large point source facilities. KeywordsPublic attitudes-Social acceptance-Geological disposal-CO2 storage-NIMBY
    12/2010: pages 295-315;
  • Robin W Grimes, William J Nuttall
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    ABSTRACT: Concerns about climate change, security of supply, and depleting fossil fuel reserves have spurred a revival of interest in nuclear power generation in Europe and North America, while other regions continue or initiate an expansion. We suggest that the first stage of this process will include replacing or extending the life of existing nuclear power plants, with continued incremental improvements in efficiency and reliability. After 2030, a large-scale second period of construction would allow nuclear energy to contribute substantially to the decarbonization of electricity generation. For nuclear energy to be sustainable, new large-scale fuel cycles will be required that may include fuel reprocessing. Here, we explore the opportunities and constraints in both time periods and suggests ways in which measures taken today might, at modest cost, provide more options in the decades to come. Careful long-term planning, along with parallel efforts aimed at containing waste products and avoiding diversion of material into weapons production, can ensure that nuclear power generation remains a carbon-neutral option.
    Science 08/2010; 329(5993):799-803. · 31.20 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

325 Citations
207.11 Total Impact Points


  • 2014
    • The Open University (UK)
      • Department of Engineering and Innovation
      Milton Keynes, England, United Kingdom
  • 2005–2013
    • University of Cambridge
      • Cambridge Judge Business School
      Cambridge, England, United Kingdom
  • 2010
    • Imperial College London
      • Department of Materials
      London, ENG, United Kingdom
  • 1998–2002
    • University of Birmingham
      Birmingham, England, United Kingdom
  • 1995–1999
    • Keele University
      Newcastle-under-Lyme, England, United Kingdom