The Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) and Canada’s Terrestrial Energy have agreed to explore ANSTO Synroc (synthetic rock) proprietary waste treatment technology for used fuel management.

Under the agreement, ANSTO will provide technical consulting services to Terrestrial Energy for the conditioning of used reactor fuel from the operation of Integral Molten Salt Reactor (IMSR) heat and power plants in Canada, the UK, the USA, and other global markets. Terrestrial Energy’s IMSR uses molten salt reactor technology to produce cost-competitive carbon-free heat for industrial applications and generating electricity.

ANSTO Synroc is an Australian innovation for the final disposal of complex intermediate and high-level radioactive waste. The technology is based on crystalline or mineral phases that have survived in natural geological environments at elevated temperatures in the presence of water for hundreds of millions of years.

ANSTO Synroc waste treatment technology delivers a tailored waste-form chemistry with associated process technology.  These accommodate a broad range of waste-forms that meet international requirements for long-term disposal of used reactor fuel. The Synroc innovative nuclear waste treatment technology also significantly reduces the volume of waste for disposal, lowering long-term lifecycle costs.

“ANSTO Synroc’s team has substantial experience in developing and progressing solutions for used fuel streams, and we are excited to share the benefits of this new Synroc innovation with Terrestrial Energy,” said Gerry Triani, Synroc Technical Director at ANSTO. “Terrestrial Energy’s used fuel management programme has similarities to the ANSTO Synroc Radioactive Waste Treatment Facility, which will treat the liquid waste from radiopharmaceutical production.”

“Synroc waste treatment technology delivers the standards of safety and security of IMSR  used reactor fuel that society expects and regulators demand. These standards are essential for the expansion of nuclear energy generation to meet the challenges of our clean energy transition,” said Terrestrial Energy CEO Simon Irish. “In many ways, this technology completes the IMSR’s fuel cycle, from rock to clean energy production, and back to rock again, and from where we drew inspiration when naming the company, Terrestrial Energy.”

The development of the ANSTO Synroc Facility in Sydney is funded by the Australian Government as part of the ANSTO Nuclear Medicine project. It is intended to lock-up the radioactive byproducts from the production of life-saving radioactive isotopes, used widely in medical imaging for the diagnosis of many diseases.

The IMSR (Photo credit: Terrestrial Energy)

Date: Friday, 04 February 2022
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