The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), Sellafield Ltd and Innovate UK are to invest up to £3 million in projects that will integrate and demonstrate flexible innovative technologies for the nuclear decommissioning sector.
Decommissioning and site remediation will have increased priority at Sellafield Ltd over the next five years as reprocessing ceases.
The estimated cost of decommissioning the site is £85 billion, and innovation has a significant role to play in enabling safer, faster and cheaper solutions.
Projects should integrate technologies into a single platform, or a small number of platforms, and aim to:
- minimise human intervention
- increase productivity
- optimise waste treatment, packing and routing
Examples of technologies that could be part of projects include:
- robotics and autonomous systems
- sensors and detectors
- artificial intelligence
- virtual reality
- digital and ICT
- big data
- modelling and simulation
The funding is under SBRI (the Small Business Research Initiative), and the competition will run in 2 phases.
Phase 1 will be for the production of detailed technology plans and business cases. The best ideas could attract funding in the second phase to develop a demonstration project.
If this demonstration is successful, there is potential to progress to deployment and demonstration in a radioactive facility at Sellafield.
- the competition opens on 30 January 2017, and the registration deadline is at noon on 19 April 2017
- the competition is open to organisations of any size working alone or with partners and that can demonstrate a route to market for their idea
- phase 1 projects can range in size up to £50,000 and last up to 3 months
- phase 2 projects can range in size up to £1.5 million and must be completed by September 2019
- organisations will attract 100% funded development contracts
- a briefing event will be held in London on 14 February 2017