Deep Isolation Awarded Grant for Corrosion Resistant Canister

Deep Isolation EMEA Ltd. (London, United Kingdom) has won a grant from the Department of Energy Security and Net Zero (formerly BEIS) to engineer a corrosion-resistant canister capable of safely encapsulating spent fuel assemblies for disposal within deep borehole repositories 1 to 3 kilometers underground. Funding comes from the Energy Entrepreneurs Fund, part of the Net Zero Innovation Portfolio. 

The project will support the UK’s net-zero targets by 20450 by tackling a fundamental challenge to the success of small modular reactors: the need for safe, secure, scalable, and cost-effective spent nuclear fuel disposal solutions. 

With a goal of meeting UK regulatory requirements for deep borehole disposal, this work will help advance the technological maturity level of Deep Isolation’s disposal canister designs. The project, a collaboration between the Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre, the University of Sheffield and NAC International Inc., will also include the manufacturing and testing of a prototype canister tailored to UK requirements, thus establishing a canister manufacturing supply chain.

“This canister provides an option for disposal in a deep borehole that brings greater flexibility and potential cost savings for disposal of spent nuclear fuel and high-level waste,” says Chris Parker, global head of business development and managing director of Deep Isolation EMEA. “By giving the UK choice and flexibility in disposal, it helps ensure new nuclear as a vital component of the UK’s 2050 net zero strategy.”

As Parker explains, deep borehole technology in the UK cannot replace the need for a traditional mined geological disposal facility (GDF), but it has the potential to reduce costs and save time for the UK’s GDF program because it can accept selected high heat generating waste streams at much greater depth.

“An added benefit is that the UK’s advanced manufacturing capabilities provide us with an ideal supply chain with which to service the growing international demand for deep borehole disposal,” Parker says.

The project will give UK manufacturers an early mover advantage in the global borehole disposal market that could be valued at more than £100 billion (~$120 billion) in the coming decades. Each canister would dispose of spent fuel that has enabled the generation of 132 million kWh of low carbon electricity, representing a saving of nearly 27,000 tons of CO2 per canister.

Says Alan Woods, strategy director at Rolls-Royce SMR: “I am delighted to be on the project board for this Deep Isolation-led project, because the innovation they are bringing to market—small, modular disposal of radioactive waste in deep boreholes—will be an important enabler of the international SMR market, and a great export opportunity for UK manufacturers.” Rolls- Royce SMR aims to complete its first unit in the UK in the early 2030s and build up to 10 by 2035.

Source: Deep Isolation,