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Dalton Nuclear Institute

Worm's eye view of researcher squeezing pipette into bottle

Radioactive effluent treatment

We're working with Sellafield Ltd to improve the way the nuclear industry can clean up and recycle waste.

The background

The partnership we’ve developed has allowed us to gain unprecedented insights into the challenges on site, enabling us to tailor our research to directly impact site operations.

Professor Katherine Morris / The University of Manchester

Sellafield Ltd is responsible for safely decommissioning the UK’s nuclear legacy facilities at Sellafield, as well as managing nuclear waste and fuel recycling on behalf of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority.

Working with Sellafield Ltd and the National Nuclear Laboratory, we are delivering real-world impact by finding new ways to do this.

The challenge

Sellafield is the UK’s only site for reprocessing spent nuclear fuel from its civil nuclear programme. Many legacy facilities at Sellafield are being prepared for, or are in the process of, being decommissioned.

This presents some of the most complex nuclear challenges in the world, one of which is management and treatment of radioactive effluents from the site.

The solution

A Centre of Expertise in Effluent Treatment has been established by The University of Manchester’s Dalton Nuclear Institute, with the support of Sellafield Ltd and the National Nuclear Laboratory, to carry out research into management and treatment of radioactive effluents.

Research at this centre focuses on:

  • Understanding abatement processes to optimise treatment.
  • Radionuclide behaviour in ponds and colloid formation.
  • The microbial ecology of spent nuclear fuel ponds.

This work has directly assisted Sellafield Ltd in maintaining effective approaches to effluent treatment.

The benefits

  • Developing new high-level skills and techniques and translating these to industry.
  • Building partnerships focused on nationally important research challenges.
  • Creating measurable impact, such as reduced discharges of radionuclides and optimisation of decommissioning operations within spent nuclear fuel ponds.