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.
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.
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.