Harwell is set to feature in a radioactive waste study to research options for graphite waste management in the future.

RWM (Radioactive Waste Management Ltd) has commissioned Jacobs, designer and architect engineers, to study the release of radioactivity from irradiated graphite sampled from reactor cores at the UK’s nuclear power stations.

Jacobs critical mission solutions senior vice president Clive White said: “We’re combining our leading graphite knowledge from our Integrated Waste Management team at Harwell, our role as designer and architect engineer of the Advanced Gas Reactor (AGR) and Magnox reactors, and our work on operational support and life extension.”

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He added: “Our Technology and Innovation Centre at Birchwood Park, Warrington, is applying this graphite knowledge to work through options for safe and timely characterization, retrieval, treatment and storage solutions to meet the growing global decommissioning market.”

Jacobs will measure and characterize releases of the radioactive isotope carbon-14 and compare it with releases from irradiated graphite in earlier reactor types, including the UK’s first generation of Magnox civil nuclear power stations.

The nuclear research will have a significant bearing on the safe management and disposal of graphite wastes arising from the decommissioning of 14 advanced gas-cooled reactors, which generate nearly 20 per cent of the country’s electricity. However, these are due to be phased out over the next 10 years.