EPRI and NEA to collaborate on waste management for SMRs

1 November 2023

The US-based Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) and Paris-based Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) have announced a new collaboration on an upcoming NEA Joint Project focusing on waste management strategies for small modular reactors (SMRs) and advanced nuclear energy systems.

Following the inaugural government-industry conference, NEA Director-General William D Magwood IV, and EPRI Senior Vice President Neil Wilmshurst finalised EPRI’s support for the Waste Integration for Small & Advanced Reactor Designs (WISARD) project. WISARD will bring together experts from all areas of the nuclear to investigate whether these innovative systems may require innovative waste management solutions.

The WISARD project programme of work seeks to capitalise on the current opportunity to integrate sustainable waste management strategies from the very beginning of SMR and advanced reactor development. The project will create a first-of-a-kind international platform focusing on the specific characteristics of used fuel and radioactive waste from SMRs and advanced reactors. Subsequent work will assess the suitability of current waste management solutions for the next generations of used fuel and radioactive waste. The project will focus on four key topics:

  • Long-term disposal;
  • Transportation;
  • Treatment, recycling & reprocessing;
  • Intermediate storage.

By assessing the back-end impacts of front-end and reactor design decisions, the WISARD project will enable early identification of future issues to provide system vendors, facility operators and government bodies with the opportunity to address problems in an efficient and sustainable manner. It will also provide opportunities to avoid unnecessary costs by addressing possible future issues during the design phase, and publicly showcase a robust ongoing commitment to sustainability.

The WISARD project will span three years, with development of the project scope ongoing through 2023 and 2024 in collaboration with interested parties. Work is expected to officially start in late 2024 and continue until 2027.

Image: NEA Director-General William D Magwood, IV (left) and EPRI Senior Vice President Neil Wilmshurst at the signing ceremony (courtesy of NEA)

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