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Pre-disposal Management of Radioactive Waste

Alternative title: Håndtering av radioaktivt avfall før deponering

Awarded: NOK 3.1 mill.

There are a great number of facilities and activities (e.g. mining, radiopharmaceutical production) around the world in which radioactive material is produced, handled and stored. Radioactive waste includes any material that is either naturally radioactive or has been contaminated by radioactivity and has no further use. Safe and efficient management of radioactive waste is a global challenge. While deep geological disposal is internationally considered the best final step for high level waste, the domain of low and intermediate level waste treatment and management poses a more immediate challenge. Innovative technologies to more efficiently characterize, treat, condition and minimize waste streams at the pre-disposal phase are sought by radioactive waste producers, governments and society. PREDIS specifically address the challenge to foster innovation to pre-disposal management of radioactive waste streams identified as priority by the radioactive waste producers and waste management organizations. Improved efficiency of radioactive waste pre-disposal activities is the project`s driver. The consortium includes 17 countries, with additional countries participating to the End User group. The project concept, objectives, outputs and impacts were formulated taking into account the needs of the member states. In this project the Norwegian Institute for Energy Technology will be responsible for integrating new insights provided by Machine Learning supported analyses of data produced by front-line waste condition monitoring and waste evolution modelling technologies into a real-time 3D simulation aided decision framework, helping project managers choose the most optimal strategy for management of wastes from decommissioning. The outcomes of the project will increase safety, reduce costs, reduce final hazardous material volumes and improve waste management practices. These benefits will impact the waste producers, society as a whole (as tax payers) and the environment. Work during the first seven months of the project focused on collecting information on existing radioactive waste inventories and practices in predisposal management, understanding the most urgent needs and challenges of the industry, interacting with end users and stakeholders to ensure that the most important research and development topics are addressed and laying the groundwork for experimental and state-of knowledge activities. Cooperation with industry, other EU projects and international organisations has been considerable as evidenced by the great number of participants and interaction in the webinars. A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between PREDIS and other EU projects, and the Strategic Research Agenda (SRA) was prepared during the first year of the project. IFE`s task requires that other tasks of the project providing simulated or real waste monitoring data are on a sufficiently mature level (i.e. expected data types are defined and sample data input can be provided). IFE`s task is also dependent on maturity of the task providing requirements for 1. simulating store and monitoring strategies, 2. modelling reference container/package types and their degradation, as well as 3. LCA (Life Cycle Assessment) and LCC (Life Cycle Costs) assessments. Hence, IFE`s activities so far were focusing on following and supporting the developments in other tasks. IFE is now preparing for workshops with the teams of the tasks providing input in order to elicit requirements (e.g. data types that need to represented) for the decision framework and for modelling assets (e.g. radioactive waste containers).

All Member States (MS) have radioactive waste that originates not only from the fuel cycle for nuclear energy production, but also from sectors such as medical, agriculture and mining. The project specifically addresses the European Joint Programme’s Radioactive Waste Management related NFRP-10 topic: Developing pre-disposal activities. The project advances the state-of-the-art through a variety of technical and strategic actions. End users such as nuclear power operators, radioactive waste producers and waste management organisations are the drivers for this project. Within their respective Strategic Research Agendas they have defined needs for pre-disposal classification, treatment and optimisation methods for waste. PREDIS brings together expertise and innovation from leading researchers in nuclear technologies in a programme underpinned by ambition and excellence. The overall objectives of the PREDIS is to provide new methods, processes and technologies for the management of waste streams in response to needs of waste producers and innovation opportunities for better waste management. The project builds upon earlier work of international roadmaps and strategic research agendas yet strives to make significant advances to foster wider holistic perspectives to the pre-disposal needs and priorities for the future. The new approaches proposed by the project will include (i) novel solutions for non-destructive analysis, (ii) improved understanding of the impacts of extended storage on waste package performance using digital twins (DTw) and (iii) novel conditioning technologies for problematic waste. New multi-disciplinary and multi-scale scientific approaches to demonstrate technical, economic and environmental feasibility of the new solutions will be applied. These innovations have a range of Technology Readiness Levels, and thus are covering the spectrum from both idea to application (low to high TRL), and from lab to market (small to large scale).

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