London — Deep Isolation EMEA Ltd. has won a grant from the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (formerly BEIS) to engineer a corrosion-resistant canister capable of safely encapsulating spent fuel assemblies for disposal within deep borehole repositories 1 to 3 kilometers underground. Funding comes from the Energy Entrepreneurs Fund, part of the Net Zero Innovation Portfolio.
The project will support the UK’s net-zero targets for 2050 by tackling a fundamental challenge to the success of small modular reactors: the need for safe, secure, scalable and cost-effective spent nuclear fuel disposal solutions.
With a goal of meeting UK regulatory requirements for deep borehole disposal, this work will help advance the technological maturity level of Deep Isolation’s disposal canister designs. The project, a collaboration between the Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre, the University of Sheffield and NAC International Inc., will also include the manufacturing and testing of a prototype canister tailored to UK requirements, thus establishing a canister manufacturing supply chain.
“This canister provides an option for disposal in a deep borehole that brings greater flexibility and potential cost savings for disposal of spent nuclear fuel and high-level waste,” said Chris Parker, Global Head of Business Development and Managing Director of Deep Isolation EMEA. “By giving the UK choice and flexibility in disposal, it helps ensure new nuclear as a vital component of the UK’s 2050 net zero strategy.”
Parker explained that in the UK deep borehole technology cannot replace the need for a traditional mined geological disposal facility (GDF), but that it has the potential to reduce costs and save time for the UK’s GDF programme because it can accept selected high heat generating waste streams at much greater depth.
“An added benefit is that the UK’s advanced manufacturing capabilities provide us with an ideal supply chain with which to service the growing international demand for deep borehole disposal,” Parker said.
The project will give UK manufacturers an early mover advantage in the global borehole disposal market that could be valued at more than £100 billion in the coming decades. Each canister would dispose of spent fuel that has enabled the generation of 132 million kWh of low carbon electricity, representing a saving of nearly 27,000 tonnes of CO 2 per canister.
Alan Woods, Strategy Director at Rolls-Royce SMR, says: “I am delighted to be on the project board for this Deep Isolation-led project, because the innovation they are bringing to market – small, modular disposal of radioactive waste in deep boreholes – will be an important enabler of the international SMR market, and a great export opportunity for UK manufacturers.” Rolls- Royce SMR aims to complete its first unit in the UK in the early 2030s and build up to 10 by 2035.
Deep Isolation specializes in borehole disposal of nuclear waste, and has more than a dozen contracts across three continents. Projects include advanced reactor and SMR waste disposal, stand-alone borehole disposal of small existing nuclear waste inventories, and working alongside mined repository programmes to increase safety and reduce costs by moving certain waste streams into boreholes. Deep Isolation has been granted 19 patents and has more than 90 notices of invention.
About the 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.
Deep Isolation, Inc.
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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.