Joint venture featuring Arc Energy Resources Awarded £500k to Develop the Next Generation of Intermediate Level Waste Container


Date posted: 3rd October 2021

Joint venture featuring Arc Energy Resources Awarded £500k to Develop the Next Generation of Intermediate Level Waste Container

Capsa Solutions has been awarded a £500k grant from Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency, for a 2.5 year program to develop a waste container designed to meet the challenges of broad front nuclear decommissioning.

As the UK moves towards Net-Zero targets, nuclear energy provides reliable low carbon power. Over the next 100 years, there is a significant program of decommissioning existing and legacy nuclear sites. This includes the general (broad front) work at Sellafield, as well as final site clearance of 17 Magnox reactor sites.

The current estimate of the undiscounted total cost of cleaning up the UK’s nuclear liabilities is £119bn for the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) estate; £7.5bn for the Ministry of Defence; and £19.5bn for EDF’s Advanced Gas Cooled Reactor fleet and Sizewell B. It is currently estimated that approximately £5bn will be spent over the next 100 years on nuclear waste containers.

Capsa Solutions was born out of an industry challenge set by Sellafield Ltd to develop a safer, more cost effective and responsible means of disposal, transportation and storage of nuclear waste. Eadon Consulting collaborated with fabrication specialists Arc Energy Resources to form the joint venture; and together they have brought a unique combination of design and manufacturing experience to the project.

The Nuclear Sector Deal (NSD) recognises there is an opportunity to improve taxpayer value from this significant spend and has set a goal to achieve a 20% reduction in the cost of decommissioning by 2030.

With Sellafield’s challenge and the NSD target in mind, Capsa Solutions responded with a new approach to waste container design; with emphasis on safety, simplicity and cost efficiency. The result was a superior container designed from scratch unlike any in operation. The design consists of a simple to manufacture cylinder with a unique and easy to operate closing mechanism that leverages design for manufacture principles for commercial innovation. Capsa Solutions went beyond just looking at lowering the cost of manufacture; design features and capabilities were integrated into the design which could yield savings in all parts of its lifecycle. Purposeful design features which allow the containers to be shipped quicker and easier, stored and filled more efficiently, all contribute to a never-seen-before design which maximises efficiency thus reducing overall decommissioning costs.

Capsa Solutions is being supported by the Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (NAMRC), and subcontractors Hydrock and Radioactive Waste Management (RWM).

Eadon have worked in the nuclear sector for the last 10 years delivering detailed design and analysis of safety critical cranes and pressure vessels. They will provide the analysis and design software, as well as people who are experienced in the delivery of technically challenging projects in the nuclear sector.

Arc Energy are an experienced high integrity fabricator working for Rolls Royce Submarines and other clients in the nuclear sector. They will provide the manufacturing capability and expertise on the project.

The Nuclear AMRC will provide the knowledge and expertise to carry out the design for manufacture and production costing work packages. They are part of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult, helping companies solve their manufacturing problems and be more competitive in the energy sector.

Launched in July 2021, the UK Innovation Strategy sets out the government’s vision to make the UK a global hub for innovation by 2035. It aims to boost private sector investment in R&D across the whole of the UK and create the right conditions for all businesses to innovate. Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency was appointed by Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng to operationalise the Innovation Strategy and ensure it becomes a springboard for positive and meaningful actions in business and industry.

Jim Hill from Eadon Consulting  says: “This Smart Grant funding from Innovate UK is crucial in allowing us to move to the next stage of developing the waste container. We can now investigate how much these will cost to produce at volume and look at any design changes and iterations that can be done to make it even more cost effective.”