A stable and compact nuclear waste technology is moving from research level to industrial-scale at the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO).
The planned full-scale nuclear waste treatment plant incorporates ANSTO’s Synroc innovation that locks away radioactive waste products by mimicking natural geology.
“A key part of the Synroc process is Hot Isostatic Pressing, which applies heat and pressure to minimise the disposal volume and transform liquid radioactive waste into a chemically durable material suitable for long term storage,” says Gerry Triani, Technical Director at ANSTO Synroc.
“The construction of the plant is part of a wider project to expand Australia’s production of molybdenum-99.”
Molybdenum-99, or Mo-99, is a radioactive element widely used in imaging of cancer, cardiac conditions and skeletal injuries. Construction of a new Mo-99 production facility is already underway, with the Synroc liquid waste treatment plant aimed as a complementary facility as part of the ANSTO Nuclear Medicine project.
But Synroc technology will have implications beyond just providing a waste solution for Australia’s Mo-99 supply.
Nuclear reactors across the world are in need of safe management and storage solutions for their waste. Global solutions currently vary from disposition to reprocessing, only partly addressing the closure of the fuel cycle.
“This is a technology platform that will work across a broad range of nuclear waste streams,” Gerry says.
The building works are scheduled to commence in 2017.
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