Companies from across the region have been awarded contracts to come up with innovative approaches to remotely sort and segregate radioactive waste.
The ‘Sort and Seg’ innovation competition, worth £3.9 million in total, was launched in July 2020. The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) – in partnership with Berkeley, Gloucestershire-based Magnox Ltd, Sellafield Ltd in Cumbria and Innovate UK – set the challenge of coming up with proposals for using autonomous technology to sort and segregate mixed radioactive wastes at the UK’s oldest nuclear sites.
Magnox is responsible for defuelling and decommissioning 12 nuclear sites and operating one hydro-electric plant in the UK.
The first phase of the competition is now complete and contracts, worth up to £60k each, have been awarded to 14 consortia that will now come up with feasibility studies for their proposals, including robotics, advanced sensors and artificial intelligence.
The NDA’s Head of Innovation, Sara Huntingdon, said: “The reaction to ‘Sort and Seg’ has been incredible – we have received the best response we’ve ever had for this kind competition.
“It’s really exciting that most of the successful organisations are bringing in experience and ideas from other sectors and I’m really looking forward to working together with our partners and with all the winners to see how these ideas develop.”
The initial feasibility studies will be delivered in May, with the winners competing for a number of contracts – each worth up to £900,000 – for 15-month ‘demonstrator projects’.