Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre

(Scottish Universities Research and Reactor Centre)

Located on the Scottish Enterprise Technology Park, a half-mile (1 km) southeast of the centre of East Kilbride in South Lanarkshire, the Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre grew out of the former Scottish Universities Research and Reactor Centre. With particular expertise in the earth, environmental and biomedical sciences, the centre now has an international reputation in geochemistry, radiochemistry and isotope biogeosciences and houses one of the most comprehensive suites of rock, landscape and archaeological dating techniques available in the UK.

The Scottish Universities Research and Reactor Centre was opened by Sir John Cockcroft on the 13th November 1963, funded by the UK Department of Scientific and Industrial Research and co-located with the National Engineering Laboratory. It was a partnership between the principal Scottish universities, together with Queens University in Belfast (Northern Ireland), to permit teaching and research in nuclear physics and associated sciences. It operated a 300 kW American-designed Argonaut research reactor based on a core of highly-enriched uranium, moderated and cooled by water, which permitted a range of experiments to be undertaken, together with the production of short-lived radio-isotopes and radioactive dating. The reactor was contained within a concrete box and ran until 1995, after which a decommissioning process saw the reactor fully dismantled by 2003. This process was thoroughly described in the scientific literature.

Today the centre runs several facilities on behalf of the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), together with accelerator mass spectrometry, luminescence, the measurement of environmental radioactivity and a radiocarbon dating facility which provides a service to universities, research institutes and heritage organisation across the UK and Europe.

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