SHINE chooses Deep Isolation waste disposal technology

11 March 2024

Fusion technology company SHINE Technologies has selected Deep Isolation's technology as its preferred solution for storage and disposal of the high-level waste that will remain as a residue after deployment of SHINE's technology for recycling used nuclear fuel.

Deep Isolation's waste repository concept leverages directional drilling to isolate used nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste in deep boreholes located underground in suitable rock formations (Image: Deep Isolation)

The two companies have entered into a memorandum of understanding to "jointly drive forward spent fuel recycling supported by a safe and scalable solution for the resulting waste streams".

Under the MoU, SHINE and Deep Isolation will collaborate and exchange critical information for the use of Deep Isolation's Universal Canister System (UCS) and patented directional drilling solution for deep borehole disposal for isolation and management of high-level waste.

Wisconsin-based SHINE is working to deploy fusion technology through a "purpose-driven and phased approach" which includes eventually applying its technology to recycling nuclear waste. And ultimately generating power from nuclear fusion.

Last month, Deep Isolation and SHINE announced the findings of a study into pairing a used nuclear fuel recycling facility with deep borehole disposal technology. It found the technology could reduce the total volume of waste requiring disposal in a deep geologic repository by greater than 90%. The study also identified areas where further technical work could optimise Deep Isolation's technology for the remaining waste, reducing disposal costs even further.

The study was an initial scoping assessment of the costs of disposing the byproducts of a pilot recycling facility that would extract and enable reuse of valuable components from used nuclear fuel while separating fission products that require geologic disposal, the companies said.

"Our partnership with Deep Isolation marks an important step in achieving our mission," said SHINE founder and CEO Greg Piefer. "Climate change appears to be happening and accelerating, and nuclear energy is one of the best tools currently available to address carbon emissions. The approximately 90,000 tons of civilian spent nuclear fuel across the United States represent an untapped and arguably renewable resource that if recycled will reduce emissions and accelerate the deployment of carbon free fission energy. The result of this work will be a reduction in waste volumes and ultimately a half-life that allows for simpler, safer disposal."

"This agreement gives the two companies a clear framework to commercialise our respective innovations in an integrated way," added Deep Isolation CEO Liz Muller. "Clean nuclear power can only take off if the industry can show society that there are safe, practical, and permanent means of disposing the highly radioactive materials that result. Integrating Deep Isolation's disposal technology with SHINE's recycling technology offers a powerful solution."

In late February, SHINE and Orano USA signed an MoU to cooperate on the development of a US pilot plant with commercial-scale technology for recycling used nuclear fuel from light water reactors. Site selection for the pilot facility is expected by the end of this year. The pilot plant concept - expected to recycle 100 tonnes per year of used nuclear fuel, extracting 99% of usable uranium and plutonium - will validate commercial-scale aqueous recycling with integrated non-proliferation measures.

The system is based on SHINE's proven critical separation technology and Orano's methods in operation at its La Hague facility in France, where more than 40,000 tonnes of used nuclear fuel have been reprocessed.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News