Nuclear waste, in the form of spent nuclear fuel, has been accumulating at nuclear reactors since the dawn of the nuclear age. The United States has never had an operational disposal solution, but nuclear operators have paid 0.1 cents per kWH into the Nuclear Waste Fund, which is meant to eventually be used for the disposal of spent nuclear fuel. There is currently approximately $40 Billion in the Fund, but no active program to dispose of nuclear waste. Deep Isolation will be the first private disposal solution in the United States.
Deep Isolation offers an innovative solution to safely and securely isolate and dispose of spent nuclear fuel from commercial nuclear reactors. Our horizontal drill hole technology offers a safe and low cost alternative to conventional disposal methods.
Deep Isolation utilizes mature technology perfected by the US drilling industry over the last two decades. We can emplace spent nuclear fuel within a few years after site selection and licensing, while staying well within the budget of the current Nuclear Waste Fund.
Nuclear waste, in its original fuel assemblies (requiring minimal handling) is placed in sealed canisters. These are lowered a mile deep down vertical drill holes lined with steel casing, and then inserted into horizontal storage portions that are several miles long. The waste is placed in sedimentary formations that have demonstrated geologic stability and impermeability by having contained volatile gases for tens of millions of years. Each drillhole can hold 30% to 50% of the lifetime waste from a gigawatt nuclear reactor. If desired, the waste is readily retrievable.
Horizontal drillholes in sedimentary rock are an established and straightforward technology (unlike the vertical boreholes in granite from a recent DOE defense nuclear waste study). Over 50,000 such drillholes have already been drilled in the US for oil and natural gas production. The storage region in the sedimentary rock is several thousands of feet below any aquifer. The vertical drillhole is sealed after waste is emplaced.
Safety is assured by multiple levels of protection: the waste is in ceramic fuel pellets; the pellets are in metal fuel rods contained in a fuel assembly; the assemblies are surrounded by bentonite that fills the canisters; the canister walls and the steel casing offer more isolation. The ultimate protection is the deep geology, with a billion tons of rock above the storage region. A slight tilt of the drill hole with a plumber’s trap helps assure isolation from the vertical portion of the sealed drillhole.
There are appropriate sedimentary basins for Deep Isolation repositories throughout the United States. A distributed/modular siting of repositories could drastically reduce transportation challenges.
While the drilling technology is standard, Deep Isolation is the first company proposing to use this method for the safe isolation of spent nuclear fuel, and has applied for multiple patents – the first of which has already been allowed.
The short video below illustrates our drilling technology.
The diagram below provides a visual understanding of how spent nuclear fuel could be disposed of in Deep Isolation.
Raised over $10 million of the $8 million Seed RoudJanuary, 2019
Emerged from Stealth Mode (Bloomberg piece, video release and online content, etc)March, 2018
Angel round oversubscribedMarch, 2018
Angel round completedFebruary, 2018
Representative survey of the American Public by GfKJanuary, 2018
Completed a technical white paperDecember, 2017