How it works
The proven technology behind ANSTO Synroc integrates the design of both the waste form and process technology to reduce lifecycle costs, minimise volume and provide an extremely durable and safe solution for final storage of radioactive waste.
This animation provides a behind the scenes look at how this innovative technology works.
ANSTO Synroc is a waste treatment technology designed to lock up high-level nuclear waste providing a safe and secure method for final disposal.
ANSTO Synroc is an innovative platform technology that offers significant cost and schedule savings via:
- Higher waste loadings
- Enhanced chemical durability
- Increased processing flexibility
- Minimal off-gas emissions.
A tailored solution
The waste form is the key component of the immobilisation process. It determines: the type of nuclear waste that can be immobilised, how well the waste is locked up and ultimately the number of disposal canisters required (waste loading).
The expertise of the ANSTO Synroc team lies in tailoring the design of the waste form, and associated process technology, to suit the unique characteristics of the waste, which enables cost savings and performance benefits to be realised.
Safe, secure and sustainable
ANSTO Synroc offers a safe, secure and sustainable waste treatment technology capable of treating a broad range of radioactive wastes to meet international requirements for long-term disposal.
The treatment of high level radioactive waste is the highest cost component of any legacy clean-up campaign. Consequently, the greatest opportunity for cost and schedule savings is in optimising the approach to high level waste treatment.
ANSTO’s Synroc waste treatment technology offers significant cost and performance benefits and can be applied to a broad range of waste streams.
ANSTO Synroc can:
||Reduce life cycle costs|
||Minimise disposal volume|
||Lower environmental impact|
Case study: US opportunities
Idaho HLW Calcines - Multi-billion dollar lifecycle cost savings led to the US Department of Energy selecting Synroc as its preferred treatment technology.
The approximately 4400m3 of calcined reprocessed HLW, is very heterogeneous and consists of waste components that are very problematic to incorporate in glass. This significantly restricts possible vitrification waste loadings.
ANSTO has developed tailored glass-ceramic waste forms that overcome these limitations and offer the following technical advantages:
- Extremely high waste loadings up to 80% (three times that of borosilicate glass)
- US$5 billion savings in Yucca Mountain disposal costs (DOE conservative internal estimates) compared to baseline vitrification technology
- Superior chemical durability able to meet relevant disposal requirements
- Process flexibility to accommodate highly heterogeneous compositions.
Case study: Actinide waste streams in the UK – ANSTO Synroc technology selected by the UK Nuclear Decommissioning Authority
Highly impure, heterogeneous plutonium residue waste streams present unique technical, safety, security and regulatory challenges.
These small volume wastes were derived from early fuel development activities and had been stored for over 50 years without a disposition route. ANSTO Synroc technology was selected by the UK Nuclear Decommissioning Authority as its preferred treatment technology to immobilise these heterogeneous plutonium residues.
ANSTO Synroc has developed flexible glass-ceramic and ceramic waste forms that offer significant advantages including:
- Process flexibility to produce ceramic and glass-ceramic waste forms on a single process line
- Enhanced chemical durability and proliferation resistance
- Lifecycle criticality control
- Cost savings.
Case study: Radiopharmaceutical wastes in Australia
ANSTO is currently constructing a waste treatment facility to treat waste from the newly expanded Molybdenum-99 (Mo-99) production facility, being constructed as part of the ANSTO Nuclear Medicine project. The waste treatment plant will also treat legacy waste from past production.
Key benefits of the ANSTO Synroc Technology include:
- Flexible technology capable of treating waste from past and future Mo-99 production
- Large volume reductions
- Reduction in transport and disposal costs
- Regulatory approval to build the expanded Mo-99 production facility was predicated on implementing a safe, secure waste management system that Synroc provides.