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
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.
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.
Disposal of High-Level Nuclear Waste in Deep
Dr. Richard Muller introduces our method and issues pertaining to safety requirements.
Thermal Evolution near Heat-Generating Nuclear Waste Canisters Disposed in Horizontal Drillholes
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.