Advanced Radioactive Waste Treatment using Nanostructured Hybrid Composites (NaSHC).

Lead Research Organisation: University of Central Lancashire
Department Name: Sch of Forensic and Investigative Sci


The operation of the UK nuclear facilities gives rise to various and diverse wastes, many are aqueous liquids. These wastes although comparatively dilute in radionuclides require treatment before they can be discarded into the environment. These radionuclides include fission products and minor actinides, little or no uranium and/or plutonium as these actinides have been removed by the PUREX process. Decommissioning of the UK's nuclear facilities will generate significantly larger volumes of liquid wastes from the decontamination of plant/equipment. Although decontamination liquors are restricted to nitric acid, citric acid and sodium hydroxide as these materials are compatible with the materials of construction other proprietary materials are used when necessary. This variety of liquids results in various treatment techniques some of which render these treated liquid unrecyclable adding to the waste management impact. Solid materials from these treated liquids require further treatment before being considered for disposal.
Our programme will develop nano-structured hybrid materials that have high affinities for various fission products and actinides that can function in acid and alkaline solutions. One key feature of the synthetic route will be the preparation of low cost materials that are stable to acid or alkali and have high capacities to minimise the quantity needed to treat these liquid wastes. Preparation of low cost nano materials has eluded scientists to date and therefore accounts for their restricted use. The second key feature will be selecting the appropriate functionality of the nano material to discriminate between candidate radionuclides and non radionuclides that will be found in proprietary decontamination liquids. The third key feature of the preparative route will be to in-build a solid/ liquid separation technology; one technique that will be incorporated is a ferrite core thus allowing the separation to be accomplished by a magnetic field. It is envisaged that these nano materials could be used in-situ thus preventing a build up of radioactivity in the liquid.
The net result is an integrated clean up process that removes contamination in situ but also and equally important produces an end-product that can be accommodated into existing encapsulation techniques such as cementation or vitrification for final disposal.

Planned Impact

The beneficiaries from this international research cover a broad spectrum from academics, regulators, government to the general public and impact across various themes, e.g. economy, people, society and knowledge.
The academics involved in this project have a wealthy of experience in the dissemination of technical information to the outside world, engagement with various societal sectors, professional organisations and companies. Using instruments within their universities technology transfer will be promoted. At least two members of the team have been involved in the commercialisation of technology.


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Description The research carried out under this award at UCLan has contributed to UCLan's novel spent nuclear fuel reprocessing technology (ChromSep). The initial stages of the process involve using hybrid nanocomposites developed as part of this programme. The concept of removing, initially, cesium and strontium from spent fuel dissolver liquor (ratio of these two radionuclides to the remaining fission products and minor actinides is of the order 1:20) would eventually eliminate High Level Waste (HLW) arising from reprocessing, which would significantly influence the design and operation of underground waste repositories. In fiscal terms this could produce savings to the UK tax payer of several billions of pounds and influence the cost differential between reprocessing and spent fuel management (once- through cycle).
Exploitation Route The findings could influence the strategy for treating nuclear waste. Therefore this would influence policy and also design of a waste repository.
Sectors Energy,Environment

Description UCLan Innovations Group
Amount £42,000 (GBP)
Organisation University of Central Lancashire 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 11/2016 
End 10/2017
Description Prof Dae Sung Lee 
Organisation Kyungpook National University
Country Korea, Republic of 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Shared idea around novel materials for the selective removal of Cs from decontamination liquors. Collaborative research meetings held in both the UK and S. Korea
Collaborator Contribution Shared idea around novel materials for the selective removal of Cs from decontamination liquors. Collaborative research meetings held in both the UK and S. Korea. Has sent a research associate to work in the laboratories at UCLan, which have provided the in kind monetary value to this collaboration.
Impact Multidisciplinary with inputs from Chemists and Engineers. No output to date although a patent is currently in the process of being filed.
Start Year 2015
Description Prof L. Harwwod University of Reading 
Organisation University of Reading
Department Department of Food and Nutritional Sciences
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We have undertaken evaluation of materials produced at the University of Reading for their ion exchange capacity and potential for use as stationary phases in the chromatographic separation of cations in nuclear reprocessing liquors.
Collaborator Contribution The University of Reading have produced novel silica supported modified btphen ligands
Impact No outputs to date Multi disciplinary University of Reading provide expertise in synthetic organic chemistry. University of Central Lancashire provide experience in separation science, particularly continuous chromatographic methods.
Start Year 2015