Three companies have teamed up to develop techniques for freezing radioactive liquids and sludges to aid their handling and clean-up.
Sweden-based FriGeo specialises in techniques that stabilise sediments by freezing them underwater, rendering them nearly as hard as concrete and thereby securing any contamination they contain. This frozen sediment can then be more easily recovered and handled, while direct contact is minimized. In nuclear settings, such as used fuel pools, the ice also contributes to radiation shielding.
The technology has previously been demonstrated by FriGeo at the UK's Bradwell Magnox plant, where radioactive sludge was removed from the former used fuel pool. FriGeo said it could also be used to support sampling, dredging and de-watering of various wet materials.
FriGeo has now signed a collaboration agreement with the UK's National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL) and Studsvik UK to support joint work towards the application and further development of the freezing technology and potentially bringing it to market.
NNL deputy director for waste management and decommissioning Myrian Wood said nuclear decommissioning provided a "tremendous opportunity" for new and innovative technology. "We believe that this freezing technique is one such technology with a significant potential to deliver cost savings for customers across the world's nuclear industry," she added.
Researched and written
by World Nuclear News