The UK’s National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL) has brokered a deal between Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) and Rawwater Engineering Company, whose specialist alloy seals for the oil and gas sector are being adapted to support decommissioning challenges at Sellafield.
Tepco is to explore the use of Rawwater Molten Metal Manipulation technology (M3) technology across its nuclear power plants. Rawwater adaptations of the bismuth metal alloy technology have resulted in a suite of alloys offering significant benefits to the nuclear industry, NNL said.
Trials of the M3 technology in simulated Sellafield applications are producing "extremely encouraging results," according to NNL. M3can seal large openings or fill micron-sized cracks or pores, preventing fluid leakage both underwater and in air. Other key features include reduced recovery costs and extreme longevity (anticipated at 3000 years in the oil and gas sector).
NNL said it would monitor the Rawwater project and compile independent reports for Tepco. These reports will include results from demonstrations of the technology at NNL's Workington facility in Cumbria.
Rawwater made the transition into the nuclear sector through Sellafield’s Game Changers programme, an innovation programme designed to identify and develop technologies that can offer significant, pioneering advances in the decommissioning of Sellafield. The programme is delivered by NNL and the UK’s FIS360, specialists in supporting innovative technologies from concept to commercial production.
Rawwater is also working with the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to engineer M3 technology into a portable backpack that would provide instant, emergency metal repairs for use on the front line.
Rawwater MD Prof Robert Eden PhD said "We're delighted the versatility and effectiveness of M3 have been acknowledged so widely and are excited by the prospect of working with such prestigious partners."
Photo: Prof Robert Eden, MD of Rawwater