Deep Isolation to research deep borehole disposal as part of EPRI DOE grant to study uranium recovery options for next gen reactors

LONDON, Dec. 2, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Deep Isolation announced today it is part of a grant project awarded to EPRI, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and Southern Company Research and Development. The $2.8 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is for a joint nuclear research and development project focused on nuclear fuel management options to help power advanced nuclear energy systems, which could play an important role in meeting national decarbonization goals.

EPRI will lead the team receiving funding from DOE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E). Specifically, the two-year project aims to expand the available options of nuclear fuel management by creating a tool for optimizing the integration of processes for recovery of uranium from used nuclear fuel and performing an at-scale scoping study for market readiness of some of these techniques.

Each of the participating organizations brings their unique specific technical perspective to the project. EPRI is providing project management and expertise in advanced reactor development, ORNL is providing technical expertise in nuclear fuel cycles and system modeling for developing the tool, Southern Company is providing real-world data and their experience in shepherding new technology from the laboratory to full-scale commercial deployment, and Deep Isolation is providing technical expertise in the disposal of used fuel in deep borehole repositories approximately a mile underground.

“Recovering uranium from used nuclear fuel so that it can be used in the next generation of reactors helps to ensure the success of carbon-free generation,” said Neil Wilmshurst, EPRI senior vice president of Energy System Resources and Chief Nuclear Officer. “That next generation of carbon-free generation could help the nation achieve its decarbonization goals. EPRI is proud to be conducting research with this team in this area.”

The joint endeavor aligns closely with ORNL’s capabilities, said Andy Worrall, section head of Integrated Fuel Cycle research at the laboratory. “This project is at the heart of two of our focus areas at ORNL — advancing the next generation of nuclear technology to meet the nation’s energy needs and climate goals while reducing the demand on waste generation storage and ultimate disposal.”

“We are launching our fourth contract in the EU, with an advanced reactor developer in Estonia, so it’s affirming to see that the U.S. government is devoting resources to advanced reactor R&D that integrates borehole repositories as a spent fuel solution,” said Chris Parker, Global Head of Business Development and Managing Director, Deep Isolation EMEA Ltd.

The EPRI project brings Deep Isolation’s DOE grant projects this year to four. The previously awarded projects include: a $3.6 million grant to develop a universal disposal canister for advanced reactor applications; a $4 million grant with advanced reactor developer Oklo, Inc. and other partners to develop the first nuclear fuel recycling and disposal facility in the United States; and a $4.9 million award to work with Argonne National Laboratory to develop an integrated used fuel disposal plan using cost-effective deep borehole repository technology for oxide reduction processes.

After just four years as a public-facing company, Deep Isolation’s milestones include: contracts with a dozen countries across three continents, 18 patents and 90 notices of invention.

Media Contact: Kari Hulac, [email protected]