There is a great deal of debate focused around wind, solar and other renewable energy sources versus nuclear fuels and this debate is set to continue until a sustainable, and efficient source of power is found. Until then we are seeing some fascinating research across all these fields and this month Materials Todaywill focus on nuclear energy from the design and structure of nuclear power systems, the chemistry involved during reaction to the nuclear materials themselves.

In our lead story Todd Allen from the Department of Engineering Physics, at the University of Wisconsin and colleagues at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and Idaho National Laboratory review the life span of nuclear power systems; their construction and operation and then discuss how scientists are now able to road test new fuels and materials at the Advanced Test Reactor National Scientific User Facility in the States.

In our second paper Vincenzo Rondinella and Thierry Wiss both at the European Commissions, Joint Research centre, Institute for Transuranium elements in Karlsruhe look at nuclear fuel and the restructuring process it goes through in the reactor. They comment on the discovery of a newly formed material during the lifetime of cylindrical UO2 fuel pellets.

Sylvie Delpech, at CNRS in Paris and colleagues look at the importance of molten salts in nuclear applications and particularly molten fluorides; their application including fuel processing, recycling, and acting as breeder materials. They also include appropriate materials selection and reasons behind the corrosion effects witnessed and how this may be avoided or at the very least controlled.

I hope you enjoy our last issue of the year, do look out for our next conference in Nuclear Materials to be announced soon in the Journal of Nuclear Materials. You can view details from the inaugural conference

Next year we are planning to bring you lots of new features and topics which we are sure you will find of interest. To help us bring you more focused and topical themes and contributions it gives me great pleasure to welcome a number of new advisory board members to the team. Professor Alejandro Lopez Briseno, University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Professor Steven Lenhert, Florida State University, Dr Chris Ewels, CNRS, France, Dr Suwan Jayasinghe, University College London, Professor Aleksandr Noy University of California Merced, and Professor David Kisailus, University of California, Riverside.

Our new advisory board members and I welcome your comments and ideas on how we can improve the magazine and hope to hear from you or even meet you face to face at key events taking place throughout 2011.

From everyone here at Materials Today, we would like to wish you seasons greetings and success and good health in 2011.

Read full text on ScienceDirect

DOI: 10.1016/S1369-7021(10)70206-6