Decommissioning of the ageing nuclear engineering facilities, both in the UK and worldwide, represents one of the major challenges of the 21st century.

The international market in nuclear decommissioning and waste management relating to power generation and reprocessing plants is estimated to be in the region of £250 billion, with the operations requiring in excess of 100 years to complete. The UK component of this is estimated to be approximately £70 billion, with completion on similar timescales.

The UK has been at the forefront of the development of nuclear technology since the early 1940’s progressing through the post war period in the design, build and operation of power reactors and their associated reprocessing and waste treatment facilities.

This has resulted in significant technical waste management and decommissioning challenges and opportunities for the UK to develop and deploy technological solutions on UK sites, including Sellafield, and for the international nuclear market.

The Business Benefit

Sellafield need to integrate a diverse range of information to plan and execute decommissioning and waste management activities.

The aim is to provide information to:

•  enable better decision making at the design and planning phase;

•  provide virtual environments to test options and tools;

•  link to additive manufacture, support for safety assessment;

•  train operators;

•  provide human performance and other information to operators via, for example, augmented reality.

Sellafield need to reduce the cost of decommissioning and have identified ‘improved characterisation’ as a key area of focus.

The baseline cost of decommissioning is estimated to run at £150m per annum in 10 years’ time and £300m per annum in 15 years’ time.