Deep Isolation Announces New Award with the US Department of Energy on Sequential Advancement of Technology for Deep Borehole Disposal as Part of $9 Million Funding Initiative

Press Release, August 28, 2023

Deep Isolation Announces New Award with the US Department of Energy on Sequential Advancement of Technology for Deep Borehole Disposal as Part of $9 Million Funding Initiative

BERKELEY, CA – Deep Isolation is part of the U.S. Department of Energy’s $9 million “CREATE” funding initiative to help shore up domestic energy production, improve energy efficiency and reliability, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Deep Isolation’s selected project will deliver testing and demonstration of key technologies for deep borehole disposal at a test facility in Cameron, Texas managed by the non-profit Deep Borehole Demonstration Center.

The U.S. Department of Energy selected 18 projects covering a wide range of energy technologies across the nation, as part of the Creating Revolutionary Energy and Technology Endeavors (CREATE) Exploratory Topic managed by the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E). The selected projects support America’s net-zero goals while increasing energy and national security.

This investment by the U.S. Department of Energy represents a major early contribution to the work of the Deep Borehole Demonstration Center – a nonprofit, multinational initiative launched by international stakeholders in February 2023 to progressively implement a full-scale demonstration of deep borehole disposal. 

In the official ARPA-E announcement made earlier this month, Director Evelyn N. Wang said “the projects announced today are outside-the-box ideas, and present a variety of exciting ways to identify solutions and reach President Biden’s ambitious decarbonization goals”. Click here to read the ARPA-E press release.

Deep Isolation’s awarded proposal, titled Sequential Advancement of Technology for Deep Borehole Disposal (SAVANT) and led by Dr. Ethan Bates, Director of Systems Engineering for the company, is a close to half a million dollar project that focuses on laboratory and field testing of the Universal Canister System (UCS) being developed by Deep Isolation. Deep borehole disposal and the canister designs being advanced could provide a safe disposal option for most heat generating wastes currently in storage around the world and for a wide range of the spent fuels from major advanced nuclear reactors currently in development. Dr. Bates stated: “Our Technology Readiness Level assessments show that the canister emplacement and retrieval operations are key components of the wider disposal system that are priorities for additional tests and demonstration. By conducting laboratory, surface, and sub-surface testing of Deep Isolation’s canister designs at partner labs and at Cameron over the next two years, the SAVANT project will help us move deep borehole disposal as a total system from a conceptual design stage towards a licensing design stage”.

“This is another big achievement for our team, and a significant step forward for nuclear disposal”, said Rod Baltzer, COO at Deep Isolation. “I am very proud of our team and looking forward to working with global partners on tackling one of the biggest issues of our time”.  

Ted Garrish, Director of the independent, nonprofit Deep Borehole Demonstration Center, said: “This is an exciting development that will accelerate the work of the international, public-private-partnership that is coming together to demonstrate the whole system on an end-to-end basis at the Deep Borehole Demonstration Center.  I look forward to working with the Deep Isolation team to test the Universal Canister System and to share the results widely across the growing international community of stakeholders that see borehole disposal as pivotal to solving the world’s nuclear waste problem.”

This project supports ARPA-E’s mission of “improving management, clean-up and disposal of radioactive waste and spent nuclear fuel”.

In parallel, the project will open up a global opportunity for U.S. high-value manufacturing of deep borehole disposal system components estimated at $135 billion. As part of the SAVANT project, Deep Isolation will partner with EPRI (the Electric Power Research Institute) to develop a U.S. based supply chain to support large-scale manufacture of the Universal Canister System. Craig Stover, Senior Program Manager at EPRI, says: “The supply chains surrounding advanced nuclear technologies are a key priority for the successful deployment of these technologies. The SAVANT project correctly identifies supply chain development as fundamental. Deep borehole disposal is an important option for the nuclear power companies that EPRI works with, and our team looks forward to supporting this technology option as it matures.”


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 the Universal Canister System

Deep Isolation is developing – with support from the ARPA-E ONWARDS program – a Universal Canister System (UCS) for the safe storage, transport and disposal of spent nuclear fuel from advanced reactors. Once encapsulated in a UCS canister, the spent fuel from any advanced reactor will be both safe and future-proofed – that is, ready for any option the waste owner may choose in the future: long-term storage, disposal in a mined geologic disposal facility or disposal in a deep borehole repository. The prototype UCS canister being developed by the current ONWARDS project will be used for field testing at Cameron in Project SAVANT.    

About the Deep Borehole Demonstration Center

The nonprofit Deep Borehole Demonstration Center was established to provide interested entities and governments worldwide with an independent organization through which to commission projects that characterize and advance the technical readiness of deep borehole nuclear waste disposal technologies. Work at the Center kicked off in February 2023, when it worked with industry partners Deep Isolation, Amentum and NAC International to conduct a first series of tests in Cameron, Texas. The tests demonstrated the compatibility of a newly designed waste canister for a Pressurized Water Reactor (PWR) spent nuclear fuel assembly with standard lifting equipment for the oil and gas industry for use in deep borehole disposal operations. The PWR canister (developed by Deep Isolation) is suitable for disposal of the great majority of spent fuel assemblies currently in existence, and forms a key technology building block being used to inform the development of the Universal Canister System for future disposal of spent fuel from advanced reactors.

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