Deep Isolation with the support of the UK government, delivers first prototype canister for the disposal of nuclear waste in deep boreholes

Deep Isolation and its partners have completed the manufacture of a full-size prototype canister for the safe geological disposal of spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste in deep boreholes. This represented a major milestone today for their Energy Entrepreneurs Fund project, part of the Net Zero Innovation Portfolio of the UK Government Department for Energy Security and Net Zero.

The corrosion-resistant canister, measuring nearly 5 metres in length and weighing over 2,000 kg, has been manufactured by the Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (Nuclear AMRC) in Rotherham, with support from Lancashire-based Graham Engineering.  As part of this work, the canister design, driven by US fuel cycle specialist NAC International Inc., has been verified as meeting current UK regulatory requirements.

“This has been an exciting project for us, and a great example of US-UK partnership on nuclear waste disposal,” said Chris Parker, Managing Director of Deep Isolation EMEA.  “We already had a detailed engineering design for our disposal canister that we knew would meet regulatory requirements for safe, permanent disposal of spent nuclear fuel. With the support of Nuclear AMRC’s world class team, technologies, and UK partners, we now know how to refine the design to enable highly efficient manufacturing at scale.”

This important milestone was marked with a site visit to Nuclear AMRC’s facilities by Deep Isolation and the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero, who is sponsoring this work as part of their Net Zero Innovation Portfolio.  The full project team congregated to see the completed prototype before being shipped to the US for field testing.

In the next phase of the project, the canister will be subjected to field testing at the Deep Borehole Demonstration Center’s test facility. Ted Garrish, Executive Director of the Deep Borehole Demonstration Center, said, “It is exciting to have the world’s first fully‑engineered deep borehole disposal canister coming for testing.  The Deep Borehole Demonstration Center is a non-profit, multinational initiative to demonstrate all aspects of this important technology for nuclear waste disposal, and I am delighted that Deep Isolation has chosen to test their canister here – and that both the UK Government’s Department for Energy Security and Net Zero and the US Government’s Department for Energy have committed grant funding to support this vital work.”

In parallel, the University of Sheffield will validate the safety performance of the canister design through performance modelling in generic UK geologic environments. 

A second prototype is planned for manufacture by early 2025, which will incorporate any design modifications derived from this testing and modelling programme, and from Nuclear AMRC’s ‘Design for Manufacture’ review to capture any improvements to the design that will make it more cost effective to produce at scale.

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About the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero

The Department for Energy Security and Net Zero is focused on the energy portfolio from the former Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). This department will provide dedicated leadership focused on delivering security of energy supply, ensuring properly functioning markets, greater energy efficiency and seizing the opportunities of net zero to lead the world in new green industries.

Leading economy-wide transformation by backing enterprise and long-term growth, generating cheaper, cleaner, homegrown energy and unleashing the UK as a science superpower through innovation.  Funded through the Government’s £1 billion Net Zero Innovation Portfolio, which provides funding for low-carbon technologies and systems. Decreasing the costs of decarbonisation, the Portfolio will help enable the UK to end its contribution to climate change.

About Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre

The Nuclear AMRC helps manufacturers win work across the nuclear sector and other safety-critical industries, and drives innovative technologies to support decarbonisation and energy security.

The Nuclear AMRC’s engineers and sector specialists work with companies to develop innovative techniques and optimised processes for large-scale high-precision manufacturing, and help UK manufacturers compete globally by raising quality, capability and productivity.

The Nuclear AMRC is based at the University of Sheffield, and is part of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult, a national alliance of seven leading manufacturing research centres funded by Innovate UK.

Press Contact:

Tim Chapman, communications manager:
t.chapman@namrc.co.uk
tel: (+44) 7872 419671
namrc.co.uk

About Deep Isolation 
Deep Isolation specializes in deep borehole disposal of nuclear waste. We work with government waste management organizations to design a directionally-drilled borehole disposal solution that meets strict safety standards alongside local community preferences. We tailor our patented solution to the specific waste form, available geology options and local regulatory requirements of each client, with implementation through our partnerships with industry leaders as well as flexible IP licensing options.  Projects include advanced reactor and SMR waste disposal, stand-alone borehole disposal of small existing nuclear waste inventories, and working alongside mined repository programs to increase safety and reduce costs by moving certain waste streams into boreholes.

Press Contact:

Deep Isolation:
media@deepisolation.com
Deep Isolation EMEA Limited
Golden Cross House
8 Duncannon Street
London, WC2N 4JF
www.deepisolation.com

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Logos of Deep Isolation and SHINE

BERKELEY, CA – Deep Isolation, an innovator in nuclear waste storage and disposal solutions, completed its study for SHINE Technologies, a next-generation fusion technology company. SHINE is creating solutions to recycle spent nuclear fuel by designing facilities to reduce the volume of waste requiring deep geologic disposal.

The study was an initial scoping assessment of the costs of disposing the byproducts of a pilot spent fuel recycling facility that would extract and enable reuse of valuable components while separating fission products that require geologic disposal. The goal was to assess the cost, feasibility, and fundamental characteristics of deep borehole disposal repositories for these long-lived waste forms using Deep Isolation’s advanced, flexible, and patented designs.

This is one of the first studies ever completed to specifically assess the cost and volume savings associated with coupling of a spent fuel recycling facility with deep borehole disposal. Collaborative work suggests that the recycling facility would reduce the total volume of waste going to a deep geologic repository by greater than 90% compared to directly disposing spent nuclear fuel assemblies, with room for additional optimization on the design and cost of the facility. 

“This study is an important step toward understanding the tremendous potential for optimization in nuclear waste disposal volume and cost reductions, and therefore helps demonstrate important social and economic benefits from the deployment of our recycling technologies says Ross Radel, Chief Technology Officer of SHINE Technologies. “It’s validation that our planned approach to nuclear waste recycling is foundational to our mission of creating a safer, healthier and cleaner world.”

Dr. Ethan Bates, Director of Systems Engineering for Deep Isolation and lead on the study, says, “This study highlights the design flexibility and advantages of deep borehole disposal in terms of modularity and potential to accept a wide range of radioactive wastes.  Deep Isolation is excited to have had the opportunity to explore the benefits of deploying deep borehole disposal systems with novel recycling facilities.”

Elizabeth Muller, CEO of Deep Isolation, says “The collaboration between Deep Isolation and SHINE Technologies highlights the massive potential for driving cost out of the nuclear fuel cycle through innovation.  SHINE’s pilot recycling facility will unlock new power generation out of spent nuclear fuel from traditional nuclear power plants, significantly reducing the volume of high-level waste that requires geologic disposal.  And Deep Isolation’s borehole technology reduces the cost of that disposal itself.”

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 SHINE Technologies

Based in Janesville, Wisconsin, SHINE deploys its safe, cost-effective and environmentally friendly fusion technology in a stepwise approach. Its systems are used to inspect industrial components in aerospace, defense, energy and other sectors. SHINE’s proprietary medical isotope production processes create non-carrier-added lutetium-177 and are expected to create molybdenum-99. In the future, SHINE plans to scale its fusion technology to help solve one of energy’s toughest hurdles by recycling nuclear waste. Through a purpose-driven and phased approach, SHINE aims to generate fusion power to deliver clean, abundant energy that could transform life on Earth. Want to learn more about SHINE? Visit www.shinefusion.com and follow us @shinefusion. 

Press Contacts:

Deep Isolation:
media@deepisolation.com
www.deepisolation.com

SHINE Technologies:
shine@n6krma.com
www.shinefusion.com

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Deep Isolation and Fermi logos

Tallinn, Estonia, 7 February 2024 – an Estonian company pioneering the use of Small Modular Reactor (SMR) technology to support energy security and a net-zero energy market for Estonia, today announced that it has selected Deep Isolation’s technology as its solution for storage and disposal of SMR spent fuel. The two companies today have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to jointly drive forward the development of SMRs in Estonia supported by a safe and scalable solution for the resulting spent fuel.

Under this MOU, Fermi Energia and Deep Isolation will mutually collaborate and exchange critical information for the use of Deep Isolation’s Universal Canister System (UCS) and patented directional drilling solution for deep borehole disposal for isolation and management of spent fuel.

Kalev Kallemets, CEO of Fermi Energia, said, “Fermi Energia’s reference solution for spent fuel disposal, subject to licensing approval by relevant regulators, is provided by Deep Isolation. The solution includes packaging our SMR spent fuel in the Universal Canister System and then emplacing it in a deep borehole repository. Two commercial imperatives drive this choice:

  • Alternative options, such as the mined facilities being implemented in Finland and Sweden, are likely to be too expensive to be viable for Estonia’s small volume of SMR fuel and Estonia’s sedimentary rock geology in the upper layers where such a facility can be constructed.
  • Before we can invest in new nuclear power as part of Estonia’s net zero strategy, the country is required by the EU to establish a detailed, documented plan to have in operation by 2050 a disposal facility for the resulting spent fuel.  We do not see any other disposal technology able to meet the required speed of deployment for Estonia.”

Chris Parker, Managing Director of Deep Isolation’s European business, remarked, “As Estonia moves towards implementing advanced nuclear power generation to deliver a low-carbon future for the country, it is vital that citizens, policymakers and regulators are confident there is a safe and affordable way to dispose of the resulting spent nuclear fuel. That is why we are delighted to have been selected by Fermi Energia.” 

Kalev Kallemets added: “I also see an important geopolitical strategic imperative.  Fermi Energia has selected a US SMR – GE Hitachi’s BWRX-300 – as our technology for delivering small, modular power production. I see great benefit in also working with a US company to deliver small, modular disposal of the resulting spent fuel. As Estonia embarks on its nuclear journey, we are conscious that we are entering a 100-year plus relationship with the countries that provide us with technology support – and I welcome the chance to do this in partnership and shared values with the United States.”

Liz Muller, CEO of Deep Isolation, said: “I welcome Estonia’s commitment to establishing a solution for safe, scalable disposal of its spent fuel right at the outset of its nuclear journey.  Borehole disposal makes this possible, and is the key that is unlocking new nuclear investments for Estonia and other countries globally as we move towards a nuclear-powered, net-zero future.”

For media inquiries or further information, please contact:

media@deepisolation.com
Deep Isolation, Inc.
2001 Addison St., Suite 300
Berkeley, CA 94704
www.deepisolation.com

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 Fermi Energia:
Fermi Energia is investing to support energy security and a net-zero energy market in Estonia through development of a Small Modular Reactor. Since 2019, Fermi Energia has conducted a series of research and preliminary works, with the aim to start energy production in 2035. These include pre-implementation studies with Deep Isolation, to confirm the compatibility of Deep Isolation’s technology with Estonia’s geology and to evaluate the economics of deploying their technology in the context of either an open or closed fuel cycle. 

About the EU Taxonomy Regulations:
These regulations, coming into force on 1 January 2023, enable nuclear power investments to be funded as part of the EU’s climate change mitigation strategy provided that they fulfill a set of technical screening criteria to ensure they are aligned with the EU’s other environmental protection objectives. Criterion 1 (f) is that the project must be is located in a Member State which “has a documented plan with detailed steps to have in operation, by 2050, a disposal facility for high-level radioactive waste describing all of the following: (i) concepts or plans and technical solutions for spent fuel and radioactive waste management from generation to disposal; (ii) concepts or plans for the post-closure period of a disposal facility’s lifetime, including the period during which appropriate controls are retained and the means to be employed to preserve knowledge of that facility in the longer term; (iii) the responsibilities for the plan implementation and the key performance indicators to monitor its progress; (iv) cost assessments and financing schemes.”

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