Deep Isolation to research deep borehole disposal as part of EPRI DOE grant to study uranium recovery options for next gen reactors

LONDON – Deep Isolation announced today it is part of a grant project awarded to EPRI, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and Southern Company Research and Development. The $2.8 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is for a joint nuclear research and development project focused on nuclear fuel management options to help power advanced nuclear energy systems, which could play an important role in meeting national decarbonization goals.

EPRI will lead the team receiving funding from DOE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E). Specifically, the two-year project aims to expand the available options of nuclear fuel management by creating a tool for optimizing the integration of processes for recovery of uranium from used nuclear fuel and performing an at-scale scoping study for market readiness of some of these techniques.

Each of the participating organizations brings their unique specific technical perspective to the project. EPRI is providing project management and expertise in advanced reactor development, ORNL is providing technical expertise in nuclear fuel cycles and system modeling for developing the tool, Southern Company is providing real-world data and their experience in shepherding new technology from the laboratory to full-scale commercial deployment, and Deep Isolation is providing technical expertise in the disposal of used fuel in deep borehole repositories approximately a mile underground.

“Recovering uranium from used nuclear fuel so that it can be used in the next generation of reactors helps to ensure the success of carbon-free generation,” said Neil Wilmshurst, EPRI senior vice president of Energy System Resources and Chief Nuclear Officer. “That next generation of carbon-free generation could help the nation achieve its decarbonization goals. EPRI is proud to be conducting research with this team in this area.”

The joint endeavor aligns closely with ORNL’s capabilities, said Andy Worrall, section head of Integrated Fuel Cycle research at the laboratory. “This project is at the heart of two of our focus areas at ORNL — advancing the next generation of nuclear technology to meet the nation’s energy needs and climate goals while reducing the demand on waste generation storage and ultimate disposal.”

“We are launching our fourth contract in the EU, with an advanced reactor developer in Estonia, so it’s affirming to see that the U.S. government is devoting resources to advanced reactor R&D that integrates borehole repositories as a spent fuel solution,” said Chris Parker, Global Head of Business Development and Managing Director, Deep Isolation EMEA Ltd.

The EPRI project brings Deep Isolation’s DOE grant projects this year to four. The previously awarded projects include: a $3.6 million grant to develop a universal disposal canister for advanced reactor applications; a $4 million grant with advanced reactor developer Oklo, Inc. and other partners to develop the first nuclear fuel recycling and disposal facility in the United States; and a $4.9 million award to work with Argonne National Laboratory to develop an integrated used fuel disposal plan using cost-effective deep borehole repository technology for oxide reduction applications. After just four years as a public-facing company, Deep Isolation’s milestones include: contracts with a dozen countries across three continents, 18 patents and 90 notices of invention.

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About Deep Isolation

Deep Isolation is a leading global innovator in nuclear waste storage and disposal solutions. Driven by a passion for environmental stewardship and scientific ingenuity, the company’s patented solution of advanced nuclear technologies enables global delivery through its partnerships with industry leaders as well as flexible IP licensing options.

About EPRI

Founded in 1972, EPRI is the world’s preeminent independent, non-profit energy research and development organization, with offices around the world. EPRI’s trusted experts collaborate with more than 450 companies in 45 countries, driving innovation to ensure the public has clean, safe, reliable, affordable, and equitable access to electricity across the globe. Together, we are shaping the future of energy.

About ORNL

Oak Ridge National Laboratory delivers scientific discoveries and technical breakthroughs to accelerate the development and deployment of solutions in clean energy and global security, and in doing so create economic opportunity for the nation. ORNL is managed by UT-Battelle for DOE’s Office of Science.

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Deep Isolation, Inc.
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Berkeley, CA 94704
www.deepisolation.com

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PALO ALTO, Calif. (Nov. 17, 2022) – – EPRI, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), Southern Company Research and Development, and Deep Isolation announced today they have been awarded $2.8 million from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) for a joint nuclear research and development project. The project is focused on nuclear fuel management options to help power advanced nuclear energy systems, which could play an important role in meeting national decarbonization goals.

EPRI will lead the team receiving funding from DOE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E). Specifically, the two-year project aims to expand the available options of nuclear fuel management by creating a tool for optimizing the integration of processes for recovery of uranium from used nuclear fuel and performing an at-scale scoping study for market readiness of some of these techniques.

Each of the participating organizations brings their unique specific technical perspective to the project. EPRI is providing project management and expertise in advanced reactor development, ORNL is providing technical expertise in nuclear fuel cycles and system modeling for developing the tool, Southern Company is providing real-world data and their experience in shepherding new technology from the laboratory to full-scale commercial deployment, and Deep Isolation is providing technical expertise in the disposal of used fuel in deep borehole repositories approximately a mile underground.

“Recovering uranium from used nuclear fuel so that it can be used in the next generation of reactors helps to ensure the success of carbon-free generation,” said Neil Wilmshurst, EPRI senior vice president  of Energy System Resources and Chief Nuclear Officer. “That next generation of carbon-free generation could help the nation achieve its decarbonization goals. EPRI is proud to be conducting research with this team in this area.”

The joint endeavor aligns closely with ORNL’s capabilities, said Andy Worrall, section head of Integrated Fuel Cycle research at the laboratory. “This project is at the heart of two of our focus areas at ORNL — advancing the next generation of nuclear technology to meet the nation’s energy needs and climate goals while reducing the demand on waste generation storage and ultimate disposal.”

“We appreciate this opportunity to demonstrate how our technology can contribute to a variety of innovative efforts to increase the efficiency and sustainability of nuclear power in the marketplace,” said Deep Isolation Chief Operating Officer Rod Baltzer.

Contact
Laura Thompson
Communications Manager
704-595-2229
lathompson@epri.com

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About EPRI
Founded in 1972, EPRI is the world’s preeminent independent, non-profit energy research and development organization, with offices around the world. EPRI’s trusted experts collaborate with more than 450 companies in 45 countries, driving innovation to ensure the public has clean, safe, reliable, affordable, and equitable access to electricity across the globe. Together, we are shaping the future of energy.

About ORNL

Oak Ridge National Laboratory delivers scientific discoveries and technical breakthroughs to accelerate the development and deployment of solutions in clean energy and global security, and in doing so create economic opportunity for the nation. ORNL is managed by UT-Battelle for DOE’s Office of Science.

About Deep Isolation

Deep Isolation is a leading global innovator in nuclear waste storage and disposal solutions. Driven by a passion for environmental stewardship and scientific ingenuity, the company’s patented solution of advanced nuclear technologies enables global delivery through its partnerships with industry leaders as well as flexible IP licensing options.

Chris Parker, Jesse Sloane, Mark Frei, from Deep Isolation and Steve Sisley from NAC describe the recent advances in canister engineering designs for storage, transportation and disposal of spent fuel assemblies from pressurized water reactors in the International Journal for Nuclear Power, beginning on page 39.

Oklo Inc. has been awarded a $6.1 million cost-share project in partnership with Argonne National Laboratory (Argonne), Deep Isolation, and Case Western Reserve University from the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E). The project is funded under the ARPA-E Converting Used Nuclear Fuel Radioisotopes into Energy (CURIE) program. The CURIE program was recently launched to fuel the commercialization of advanced fission technology while reducing waste.

BERKELEY — Deep Isolation announced today that it is part of a team that has been selected to receive $4.9 million in funding as part of the U.S. Department of Energy ARPA-E CURIE program to develop and demonstrate oxide reduction (OR) technology for pyrochemical recycling of light water reactor used nuclear fuel (UNF).

The team, led by Argonne National Laboratory, also includes advanced reactor developer Oklo Inc., and Case Western Reserve University. CURIE, short for Converting UNF Radioisotopes Into Energy, funds innovations in reprocessing technologies that aim to extract and recycle valuable actinides from used nuclear fuel that can then be used to power the next generation of nuclear reactors.

Deep Isolation will develop an integrated waste disposal plan using its cost-effective deep borehole repository technology for oxide reduction waste, while simultaneously determining ideal waste acceptance parameters through economic modeling to achieve program target metrics for reduced disposal costs as there will still be some volume of waste at the end of the OR process.

“Performing the technical and economic analyses of the waste streams alongside the OR process development is important as it will ensure that a disposal pathway for the remaining waste exists before the technology is fully commercialized,” said Deep Isolation Head of Engineering and Project Lead Jesse Sloane. “These combined efforts will increase the technical readiness level of the recycling process and help make the case for the economics of spent fuel reprocessing by considering complete operational costs from the raw fuel material through disposal.”

The project also includes a study to optimize the procurement of spent nuclear fuel for recycling into an advanced reactor.

Also today: Deep Isolation is part of another selected CURIE project: It is participating in a $2.8 million project led by EPRI that will develop an advanced reactor fuel cycle enterprise.

These selections bring the number of Deep Isolation federal projects this year to four. The company received a $3.6 million grant to develop a universal nuclear waste disposal canister for advanced reactor waste streams and received part of a $4 million grant to Oklo and other partners to study borehole disposal options for the first nuclear fuel recycling and disposal facility in the United States.

Collectively, these projects will help expand applications of Deep Isolation’s technologies across a wider range of current and future fuel cycle options.

About Deep Isolation

Deep Isolation is a leading global innovator in nuclear waste storage and disposal solutions. Driven by a passion for environmental stewardship and scientific ingenuity, the company’s patented solution of advanced nuclear technologies enables global delivery through its partnerships with industry leaders as well as flexible IP licensing options.

Press Contacts

Kari Hulac — Deep Isolation
media@deepisolation.com

Deep Isolation, Inc.
2001 Addison St, Ste. 300
Berkeley, CA 94704
www.deepisolation.com

Deep Isolation team member giving presentation

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London — Deep Isolation announced today it will team up with Fermi Energia to further explore a deep borehole repository disposal solution for a proposed small modular reactor design that developers hope will help Estonia in its efforts to achieve net zero emissions.

Deep Isolation will work with Fermi Energia to analyze the costs and benefits of open or closed fuel cycle options deploying deep borehole repositories for direct disposal of spent nuclear fuel or vitrified waste produced from reprocessing that spent fuel.

Fermi Energia, an emerging company of nuclear and energy professionals founded to deploy SMRs in Estonia, first partnered with Deep Isolation in 2021 on a preliminary study that concluded that the majority of Estonia’s underground geology provides access to suitable rock formations that could safely isolate spent nuclear fuel in a horizontal borehole repository a kilometer underground.  In this new study, Deep Isolation will evaluate the costs of doing this in two scenarios: Through direct disposal of the spent fuel in its standard disposal canisters; and through disposal of the larger diameter vitrified waste form that would be produced if Estonia were to decide to reprocess its spent fuel.

“New nuclear energy investments in the European Union will be officially considered sustainable, under the recently adopted EU Taxonomy of Sustainable Finance, if they have in place by 2050 a nationally documented plan for an operational, final repository of spent fuel,” said Kalev Kallamets, CEO of Fermi Energia. “In our view, only the Deep Isolation solution can meet that criterion for new small modular reactor deployments in the EU, and that is why Deep Isolation is our go-to spent fuel repository solution.”

Deep Isolation’s borehole technology has attracted considerable interest among countries in Europe and the Pacific. The company recently announced a partnership with Amentum, a premier global technical and engineering services provider with expertise in nuclear waste management, that sets the stage for global delivery capabilities and a near-term pipeline for deep geological waste disposal valued at $30 billion in Asia and the Pacific.

A study published by Norwegian Nuclear Decommissioning (NND) in December concluded that borehole disposal is feasible and may be a cost-effective solution for the heat generating high-level nuclear waste (including spent nuclear fuel and vitrified waste canisters) that are being temporarily stored by five ERDO countries.

After just four years as a public-facing company, Deep Isolation’s milestones include: contracts with a dozen countries across three continents, 18 patents and 90 notices of invention; a subsidiary in Europe; the acquisition of Freestone Environmental Services in the U.S.; and recently, four multi-million awards from the U.S. Department of Energy.

About Deep Isolation 

Deep Isolation is a leading global innovator in nuclear waste storage and disposal solutions. Driven by a passion for environmental stewardship and scientific ingenuity, the company’s patented solution of advanced nuclear technologies enables global delivery through its partnerships with industry leaders as well as flexible IP licensing options.

Press Contact

Kari Hulac
media@deepisolation.com

Deep Isolation, Inc.
2001 Addison St, Ste. 300
Berkeley, CA 94704
www.deepisolation.com

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