The UK’s Glass Technology Services (GTS) is leading a £1.5 million project partnership to transform the processing of intermediate level wastes.
GTS will be working with Sellafield Ltd, the National Nuclear Laboratory, and the University of Sheffield.
The project is part of a £13 million package of funding announced by the UK’s Business Secretary Vince Cable to develop safe and smart nuclear technologies.
Named the Hazmelt project, it has received a £1 million grant from Innovate UK, the national innovation agency and the new name for the Technology Strategy Board.
The aim is to formulate novel glasses with new melting technology capable of vitrifying a wide range of intermediate level radioactive waste (ILW) streams.
The Hazmelt project will offer great improvements for dealing with these wastes, including enhanced wasteform passivity; improved durability; and maximal reductions in waste volumes.
Intermediate level wastes include a range of ion exchange resins, chemical sludges, nuclear fuel cladding and contaminated materials arising from the nuclear fuel cycle and decommissioning of nuclear plants.
Much of this waste is currently encapsulated into concrete before being packaged into steel drums for long-term storage.
The Hazmelt project aims to revolutionise the waste treatment process, significantly reducing the volume of processed waste and potentially creating a product that is both stable and durable, due to the unique chemical structure and properties of the glass materials under development.
During the three-year project, due to commence in April 2015, GTS will combine its glass expertise with that of project partners the University of Sheffield, National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL) and Sellafield Ltd in order to develop a novel thermal treatment process with distinct advantages over existing technologies for ILW.