Deep Isolation's concept for the disposal of nuclear fuel and high-level waste (Image: Deep Isolation)
Berkeley, California-based Deep Isolation's solution for the management of used nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste involves emplacing it in corrosion-resistant canisters placed in deep horizontal drillholes. The technology uses existing directional drilling technology. The waste can be retrieved during a determined timeframe or permanently secured. In 2019, Deep Isolation publicly demonstrated its concept when it successfully placed and then retrieved a prototype nuclear waste canister hundreds of metres underground via a borehole.
Deep Isolation offers licences that allow key industry players access to its protected intellectual property. The programme features access to Deep Isolation's patents and engineering work, as well as planning and operational processes that could be used independently of Deep Isolation technology.
The new agreement provides Amentum with access to more than 50 protected Deep Isolation inventions, as well as engineering specifications and know-how. This includes Deep Isolation's detailed and compliant process based on International Atomic Energy Agency guidance for tailoring a deep borehole repository to the specific regulatory requirements, waste inventory, stakeholder needs and local geology of each client.
"We are excited to work with Amentum to bring this solution to market," said Deep Isolation co-founder and CEO Elizabeth Muller. "We are pleased at the value they are placing in Deep Isolation's solution by investing in this licence."
The companies said initial targets for joint work include countries in Europe and the Pacific that "represent a combined addressable market for geologic disposal of spent fuel and high-level waste worth more than USD30 billion".
Amentum is a leading contractor to the US federal government and select allied national governments, supporting programmes of critical national significance across defence, security and intelligence, energy and environmental cleanup.
"Amentum has unparalleled engineering expertise and experience in the use of science and advanced technologies to successfully clean up highly complex nuclear sites," said Jim Blankenhorn, senior vice president of Amentum. "This partnership strengthens our collective position in a growing market to provide innovative solutions for nuclear disposal around the world."
"The world is changing fast, and it's imperative for the success of nuclear energy that we solve the nuclear waste challenge," Muller said. "Deploying the solution requires a large-scale team effort."