Sheffield research group underpins consortium on Norwegian nuclear waste disposal

Dr Karl Travis and the Deep Borehole Disposal (DBD) research group he leads join a team of industrial partners looking to further develop DBD concept for high-level radioactive waste in Norway.

An image of a lake and mountains in Norway

Researchers at Sheffield are subcontractors to a Consortium  who are looking to further develop DBD for high-level radioactive waste management in Norway, informing the selection of radioactive waste storage and disposal concepts by Norwegian Nuclear Decommissioning (NND). NND is responsible for decommissioning Norwegian research reactors and related nuclear infrastructure, as well as the safe handling, storage and disposal of radioactive waste.  The contract will run for an initial period of two years, with the possibility of two one-year extensions.

Deep Borehole Disposal (DBD) is a technique that seals nuclear waste up to 5 km below the Earth’s surface and has the potential of providing a safe, and viable solution to disposing of high-level radioactive waste. The main objectives of the framework are to assess a range of DBD options and assist with planning for the siting stage, leading to a sound basis for further development and implementation of the chosen disposal concept.

The Egis-led consortium includes as partners Empresarios Agrupados and Orano Projets, as well as Egis radioactive waste consultancy arm Galson Sciences Limited, and sub-contractors the University of Sheffield, Technip Energies, COWI and Marriott Drilling Group. The team encompasses cutting-edge research, consultancy, engineering, implementation and technology provider expertise in deep drilling and borehole disposal of radioactive wastes, as well as mined geological disposal, coupled with world-leading operating experience of spent fuel management facilities.

Karl said: "Our history and track record in pioneering borehole disposal has led to our recognition as world authorities on the concept, and should ensure that the University of Sheffield will play a significant role in the development and implementation of DBD in the near future. Our research is helping to solve the energy crisis, one of the great issues of our time."

Dr Daniel Galson, Managing Director at Galson Sciences said: “We are delighted to be working again with colleagues from Sheffield University on this important project, extending our collaboration with the University that cuts across a number of radioactive waste management topics. The DBD research group in Sheffield is the only one of its kind in the UK and brings world-leading R&D expertise to the project.”

In 2016 the Sheffield DBD Research Group organised the world’s first open scientific conference on DBD in Sheffield, and Dr Travis has recently been invited to participate in an international workshop in Albuquerque to draw up a work plan for US Department of Energy DBD research over the next few years. The reputation of the DBD research group at Sheffield has led to other exciting opportunities, including working with Californian company Deep Isolation and the Nuclear AMRC to help develop a corrosion-resistant canister for borehole disposal of nuclear waste. This work is funded through the Engineering Entrepreneurs Fund. 

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