California-based nuclear waste disposal company Deep Isolation has closed its $20 million Series A raise, led by nuclear industry leader NAC International (NAC), which “represents a significant industry milestone for the disposal of nuclear waste”.
Deep Isolation CEO Elizabeth Muller said "cleantech investors" are "taking note" as the world responds to "climate disasters" with a renewed sense of urgency. "The fact that Deep Isolation just closed $20 million in Series A funding shows that socially responsible investors are willing to support a cleantech company with a mission to become an integral part of a low-carbon future," she emphasised.
NAC is a leading nuclear fuel cycle consulting and technology solutions company specialising in systems for the storage, transportation, and disposal of used nuclear fuel, high-level waste, and other nuclear materials. “As proud lead investor in this round and a strategic partner, we are eager to work with Deep Isolation and its other strategic partners to break through the barriers that have previously constrained implementation of disposal solutions,” said Kent Cole, NAC president and CEO.
“Deep Isolation is leveraging proven horizontal drilling and conveyance technology from the oil and gas industry to develop a patent-protected method for effectively disposing of used nuclear fuel and high-level waste,” he added. “The Deep Isolation method in our view is safer and more efficient than prior competing alternatives avoids the complexities and risks of putting people underground to emplace and monitor the wastes.”
Deep Isolation pointed out that no country in the world has successfully disposed of high-level nuclear waste or used nuclear fuel. “This represents a significant barrier to the future of the nuclear industry, as many countries and states have rules against new nuclear power until the waste problem is solved. The lack of a waste solution is often cited as the No. 1 reason why many people oppose nuclear energy. Deep Isolation’s innovative approach could change this,” a company press release said.
“We need clean energy, and we also need to be responsible,” said Deep Isolation’s Muller. “In the case of nuclear power, this means finding a permanent solution for nuclear waste.” Cleantech investors are increasingly recognizing that nuclear energy needs a viable waste solution if it is to remain an essential part of the clean energy mix.
NAC’s parent company Hitachi Zosen Corporation is committed to tackling global environmental challenges, making it a clear fit with Deep Isolation’s mission and global footprint.The value of disposing of the current nuclear waste inventory represents a significant opportunity: $660 billion worldwide. Deep Isolation applies directional drilling technology to safely and securely dispose of nuclear waste deep underground. It has more than 40 inventions filed and 10 patents granted and allowed.
Deep Isolation and NAC signed an initial agreement in 2019, and in July 2020 they agreed to design, manufacture and supply the canisters that will be used to safely store and/or dispose of nuclear waste in deep boreholes. Under the new arrangement, NAC will take a seat on Deep Isolation’s Board of Directors. Deep Isolation has made significant progress since its formation in 2016. The company has published multiple technical papers, formalised collaborations with industry leaders such as Bechtel National and Schlumberger and completed a public demonstration in Texas in 2019.
Deep Isolation also announced a geological readiness contract with Fermi Energia in Estonia. Fermi Energia is an emerging company founded in 2020 to develop and deploy small modular reactors (SMRs). Deep Isolation EMEA Limited and Fermi Energia are collaborating on a preliminary study that will include a qualitative geological readiness assessment of Deep Isolation’s horizontal deep borehole solution in Estonia, a press release said.
Photo: Deep Isolation CEO Elizabeth Muller and NAC President and CEO Kent Cole