Study indicates pilot facility could significantly reduce waste volumes

February 27, 2024, 12:12PMRadwaste Solutions
Schematic of a deep horizontal borehole repository for nuclear waste. (Image: Deep Isolation)

Waste disposal start-up Deep Isolation and fusion tech company SHINE Technologies have announced the completion of a collaborative study assessing the costs of disposing of radioactive byproducts from a pilot spent nuclear fuel recycling facility.

The companies said their work suggests that the recycling facility would reduce the total volume of waste going to a deep geologic repository by greater than 90 percent, compared with directly disposing spent fuel assemblies, with room for additional optimization on the design and cost of the facility.

In October of last year, SHINE informed the Nuclear Regulatory Commission of its intent to license a pilot recycling facility, which would extract valuable components from spent fuel for reuse while separating fission products that require geologic disposal.

The study: The intent of the study was to assess the cost, feasibility, and fundamental characteristics of deep borehole repositories for disposing of SHINE’s long-lived recycling waste byproducts using Deep Isolation’s borehole drilling technologies.

According to the companies, the study is one of the first ever completed to specifically assess the cost and volume savings associated with coupling a spent fuel recycling facility and deep borehole disposal.

They said it: “This study is an important step toward understanding the tremendous potential for optimization in nuclear waste disposal volume and cost reductions, and therefore [it] helps demonstrate important social and economic benefits from the deployment of our recycling technologies,” said Ross Radel, chief technology officer of SHINE Technologies. “It’s validation that our planned approach to nuclear waste recycling is foundational to our mission of creating a safer, healthier, and cleaner world.”

Ethan Bates, Deep Isolation’s director of systems engineering and the lead for the study, added, “This study highlights the design flexibility and advantages of deep borehole disposal in terms of modularity and potential to accept a wide range of radioactive wastes. Deep Isolation is excited to have had the opportunity to explore the benefits of deploying deep borehole disposal systems with novel recycling facilities.”

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