Advances in Sludge Retrieval Technology for Nuclear Waste Management

Category Engineering

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Experts in the United Kingdom demonstrated a new strategy for safely removing sludge from nuclear fuel ponds using a Bulk Sludge Retrieval Tool (BSRT). Successful test trials were carried out at one of the UK's largest facilities, reducing the risk posed by nuclear waste. The tool is efficient, cost-effective, and has the potential to be a "game changer" for nuclear industry.

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Nuclear waste is a major threat posed by the nuclear industry. The radioactive elements present in the waste could endanger humans, animals, and the environment. Therefore, safe removal strategies are the need of the hour for the proper management of nuclear waste.

Sludge is produced as a byproduct of wastewater treatment processes in various industries, including nuclear. Sludge contains hazardous substances such as metals, radioactive elements, and deadly pathogens that need proper management.

The testing of the tool was done at an indoor site operated by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority in the United Kingdom

Experts in the United Kingdom have demonstrated a new strategy for safely removing sludge from nuclear fuel ponds. The first trials were successfully conducted at one of the UK's largest wet test facilities. The method was tested at an indoor site operated by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) as part of an initiative led by the Decommissioning Alliance (TDA).

"The work we are carrying out at the site has been ongoing since 2010 and has been instrumental in reducing the inventory in the pond, which in turn reduces the overall risk," said Scott Bond, TDA project manager, in a release provided to Interesting Engineering.

The new Bulk Sludge Retrieval tool (BSRT) is specifically designed to reduce the amount of sludge in the fuel pond

--- The testing of a new tool --- .

TDA sludge retrieval was tested at Forth's Deep Recovery Facility (DRF) in Flimby, Cumbria. It is said to be one of the largest facilities in the UK — with the capacity to hold 1.2 million liters of water.

According to the official release, the retrieval task can be done by attaching the new Bulk Sludge Retrieval Tool (BSRT) to a 40-meter umbilical. This tool functions similarly to a vacuum cleaner, removing sludge and transporting it to a long-term storage facility.

This new tool helps to reduce the risk posed by nuclear waste

"We are always looking for ways to ensure our work is safer, more efficient, and more cost-effective for the client, and the new methodology of installing the BSRT and the umbilical has the potential to be a game changer," Bond said.

This equipment has been designed to retrieve sludge settled on the fuel pond floor. This will aid in the safe removal of recovered sludge material waste.

The TDA team hopes to use this new method in live on-site practices as the in-door test trials yielded promising results and were deemed safer.

The retrieval tool works like a vacuum cleaner and can be attached to an umbilical 40-meters long

"Using the excellent indoor facility meant we were able to successfully trial the methods and replicate site conditions on more than one occasion, ensuring the TDA installation team is familiar with the equipment, tooling, and installation sequence when the time comes to putting the learning into live action," Bond added.

Over the last few decades, rapid progress has been made in retrieving and safely storing bulk sludge using robots and innovative materials. According to the TDA representative, this new tool is a "major development for the nuclear industry." .

The new tool is expected to be a "game changer" in the nuclear industry

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