The Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organization (ANSTO) and Terrestrial Energy of Canada have agreed to explore ANSTO’s proprietary Synroc (synthetic rock) waste processing technology for the management of spent fuel.

Under the agreement, ANSTO will provide technical consulting services to Terrestrial Energy for the conditioning of spent reactor fuel from the operation of integrated molten salt reactor (IMSR) thermal and power plants in Canada, UK, USA and other global markets. Terrestrial Energy’s IMSR uses molten salt reactor technology to produce cost-competitive carbon-free heat for industrial applications and power generation.

ANSTO Synroc is an Australian innovation for the disposal of complex intermediate and high level radioactive waste. The technology is based on crystalline or mineral phases that have survived in natural geological environments at high temperatures in the presence of water for hundreds of millions of years.

ANSTO Synroc waste treatment technology offers tailor-made waste chemistry with associated treatment technology. These accommodate a wide range of waste forms that meet international requirements for the long-term storage of spent reactor fuel. Synroc’s innovative nuclear waste treatment technology also significantly reduces the volume of waste to be disposed of, thereby reducing long-term life cycle costs.

“The ANSTO Synroc team has considerable experience in developing and advancing solutions for spent fuel streams, and we are delighted to share the benefits of this new Synroc innovation with Terrestrial Energy,” said Gerry Triani, Technical Director of Synroc at ANSTO. “Terrestrial Energy’s spent fuel management program shares similarities with the ANSTO Synroc radioactive waste processing facility, which will process liquid waste from radiopharmaceutical production.”

“Synroc waste treatment technology delivers the standards of spent fuel safety and security from IMSR reactors that society expects and regulators require. These standards are essential for the expansion of nuclear power generation to meet the challenges of our clean energy transition,” said Simon Irish, CEO of Terrestrial Energy. “In many ways, this technology completes the fuel cycle of IMSR, from rock to clean power generation, and back to rock, and where we took inspiration from in naming the company, Terrestrial Energy.”

The development of the ANSTO Synroc Facility in Sydney is funded by the Australian government under the ANSTO Nuclear Medicine project. It is intended to contain the radioactive by-products resulting from the production of vital radioactive isotopes, widely used in medical imaging for the diagnosis of many diseases.

The IMSR (Photo credit: Terrestrial Energy)


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