Deep Isolation’s disposal concept leverages directional drilling expertise to isolate spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste in horizontal drillholes located deep underground in suitable rock formations.

Spent Nuclear Fuel

Nuclear waste is composed of dense, compact pellets made of uranium dioxide and that are encased in a fuel assembly made of zirconium alloy that can hold 22,000 to 92,000 pellets.

When the fission energy in these pellets is spent, the assemblies along with their pellets are removed from the reactor and placed in cooling pools. After several years the radioactivity has decayed to the point where above ground “dry” storage is possible. This is considered to be “on-site interim storage”; there is not yet any licensed location where the waste can be sent for long-term disposal.

Directional Drillhole Configuration

Rather than creating large diameter tunnels for storage, Deep Isolation will place nuclear waste in narrow 18-inch horizontal drillholes in rock that has been stable for millions of years. No humans need go underground.

The Deep Isolation repository begins with a vertical access drillhole extending thousands of feet deep that will then gently turn horizontal. Canisters containing nuclear waste would be stored in the deep horizontal section.

Benefits of this patented design:

  • One drillhole can store 5 years of waste from a Boiling Water Reactor (BWR) and 11 years of waste from a Pressurized Water Reactor (PWR).
  • The tilted horizontal portion of the drillhole offers excellent isolation from the surface.
  • The drilling, placement, and retrieval techniques are standard and reliable.
  • Disposal sites can be at or near power plants to minimize transportation needs.

Nuclear Waste Disposal Technology
How Deep Isolation will dispose of nuclear waste using directional drilling.

Geologic Isolation

A deep horizontal drillhole repository takes advantage of the exceptional isolation properties of geologic formations whose stability has endured for a million years or more.

Deep disposal would also be far below aquifers, in a region in which water has had no contact with the surface for a million years or more.

Deep, stable rock formations thousands of feet underground provide:

  • A robust, natural geological barrier between the waste and the surface.
  • Extremely long time periods for waste to diffuse to the surface, even if it penetrates the engineered barriers, which allows most radioisotopes time to decay naturally.

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Safety is Paramount

Experience with oil and gas drilling shows that the drilling itself does not trigger earthquakes; the observed earthquakes from oil and gas fracking come from the high-pressure injection of liquid underground. There is NO FRACKING performed with any of the Deep Isolation technology.

The depth of the deep horizontal repository adn the above-ground visibility of the equipment needed to retrieve disposed waste offers protection against human intrusion and terrorist attempts.

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Drilling Rig

Disposal of High-Level Nuclear Waste in Deep Horizontal Drillholes

Dr. Richard Muller introduces our method and issues pertaining to safety requirements.

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Thermal Evolution near Heat-Generating Nuclear Waste Canisters Disposed in Horizontal Drillholes

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Corrosion Resistant Alloy Canisters for Nuclear Waste Disposal

Joe Payer writes about how canisters made of highly corrosion resistant alloys can remain perforation free for 10,000’s of years.

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Deep Isolation Intellectual Property

Learn more about the Deep Isolation technology patents for storing hazardous material in a subterranean formation.

Patents: US1002683B2,
US10265743B1, US10315238,
and US10300512.