LONDON – Deep Isolation, a leading innovator in nuclear waste storage and disposal solutions, will present its paper on deep borehole demonstration at the IAEA’s International Conference on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management, Decommissioning, Environmental Protection and Remediation: Ensuring Safety and Enabling Sustainability, to be held in Vienna, Austria from 6 to 10 November 2023.
The paper, titled “Progress towards the demonstration of deep borehole disposal”, was co-authored by the Deep Borehole Demonstration Center’s Executive Director, Ted Garrish (former Assistant Secretary for International Affairs at the U.S. Department of Energy), Deep Isolation’s Director of Systems Engineering, Dr. Ethan Bates, and Chris Parker, Global Head of Business Development and Managing Director for Deep Isolation EMEA. It provides an update on progress towards an end-to-end demonstration of deep borehole disposal for radioactive waste, following the research study presented at the IAEA International Conference on Radioactive Waste Management in November 2021.
“I’m pleased that the IAEA is showcasing our progress towards a deep borehole demonstration,” says co-author Chris Parker. “The nuclear industry knows that in order to grow it needs safe, scalable and cost-effective solutions to dispose of the spent fuel and high-level waste it creates ꟷ and a full-scale demonstration of deep borehole disposal is the logical next step towards this.”
In 2021/22, Deep Isolation and the University of Sheffield conducted a study, revealing that four out of five policymakers, regulators and waste management professionals around the world want greater international collaboration on deep borehole disposal, with their number one priority being a full-scale demonstration of the technology. To address this, an independent, non-profit organization, the Deep Borehole Demonstration Center, was founded at the end of 2022 by a coalition of government and industry partners. The paper outlines the nonprofit’s multi-year program, its work completed to date to advance the safety case and technical readiness for deep borehole disposal and priorities for the year ahead.
“This year has been incredibly productive for the Deep Borehole Demonstration Center. We’ve seen remarkable progress, from growing our membership base to conducting crucial tests and launching our ambitious demonstration program. Our commitment to advancing safe deep borehole disposal is receiving strong global support, and we’re excited about the journey ahead,” says co-author Ted Garrish.
The paper also highlights the progress and plans of government, regulatory, and private-sector supporters of the Deep Borehole Demonstration Center. Since the public launch at Waste Management Symposia in February 2023, the Center has been engaged in dialogue with a large number of interested parties and already has:
- Secured memberships from public and private sector organizations representing waste disposal interests in nine countries.
- Secured community consent to a multi-year non-radioactive demonstration program at the Center’s facility in Cameron, Texas
- Performed an initial field test at Cameron, demonstrating the interoperability of Deep Isolation’s disposal canister (designed for the deep geological disposal of pressurized water reactor fuel assemblies in boreholes) with standard lifting and emplacement technologies used by the oil and gas sector.
- Secured funding – via the UK Government’s Energy Entrepreneur’s Fund and the US Department of Energy’s ARPA-E program – to undertake more extensive surface and sub-surface canister testing over the next two years.
- Established partnerships aimed at extending the Center’s test program from Cameron’s shale geology, to encompass different geologies and jurisdictions.
The Deep Borehole Demonstration Center also announced today that it has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with TNO, an independent research organization in the Netherlands with a mission to generate innovative solutions to achieve a safe, healthy, sustainable, and digital society and boost the earning power of the Netherlands. “We are looking forward to this collaboration with the Deep Borehole Demonstration Center, in order to explore ultra deep boreholes as one of the geological storage options for nuclear waste”, says TNO’s Director Tirza van Daalen. “By bringing together our organizations’ capabilities, we aim to explore joint research activities, field tests, and further progress demonstration projects”.
This collaboration with TNO means that the Deep Borehole Demonstration Center is now pursuing demonstration at three sites: with TNO for ultra deep wellbore disposal at its Rijswijk Centre for Sustainable Geo-energy (an open innovation lab with facilities available for full-scale testing and demonstration of new drilling techniques); in crystalline rock through the Center’s MOU with Norsk Kjernekraft and in shale geology at its own test center at Cameron, Texas.
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 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.