Part of a £13 million package of funding announced on Thursday, 30 October, by Business Secretary Vince Cable, to develop safe and smart nuclear technologies, the Hazmelt project has received a £1 million grant from Innovate UK, the national innovation agency and the new name for the Technology Strategy Board.
Aiming to formulate novel glasses together with a 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: 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 plant. 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 which 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 exploit the innovative Apollo furnace technology, developed between GTS and Apollo Furnaces, and 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.