National Nuclear Laboratory


Sunday 25 May 2014

New GeoMelt Vitrification Plant at Sellafield Site to Serve as Test Facility and Partnership Platform for Nuclear Waste Disposal across Europe

NNL and Kurion Announce Joint Project

Warrington, UK and Irvine, California, USA – The UK’s National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL) has just announced a joint project with U.S. waste treatment company Kurion, to deploy a full-scale, active, In-Container Vitrification (ICV) plant based on Kurion’s GeoMelt® technology, at NNL’s flagship Central Laboratory on the Sellafield site.

NNL is the UK’s national laboratory for civil nuclear science and technology, providing advice to government, protecting key skills, supporting industry and delivering national nuclear programmes. NNL is bringing the Kurion GeoMelt process alongside its existing capabilities in thermal waste treatment, based in and around its Central Laboratory on the Sellafield site.

Kurion provides technology solutions to minimise and stabilise nuclear and hazardous waste through two families of technologies: separation and stabilisation systems. Kurion’s separation technology segregates radioactive elements and includes the company’s Ion Specific Media, which is currently deployed at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant for caesium removal, and its new Modular Detritiation System to separate tritium from contaminated water.

Kurion’s stabilisation technology converts waste into a leach-resistant glass through vitrification, which is widely recognised as the “gold standard” for nuclear waste disposal. The company’s GeoMelt vitrification technology is ideal for treating solid and bulk waste, while its Modular Vitrification System is designed for liquid waste.

“The GeoMelt plant at Sellafield creates a platform to evaluate the vitrification technology for the variety of wastes at the site and creates a treatment path for small, problematic waste streams that currently have no disposition pathway,” said Brett Campbell, vice president of GeoMelt Technologies for Kurion.

“Additionally, the plant creates an opportunity for Kurion’s engineers to collaborate with National Nuclear Laboratory experts on the treatment of nuclear and hazardous waste across Europe.”

NNL’s Director of Waste Management and Decommissioning, Nick Hanigan, added: “I’m delighted that NNL and Kurion are working together on this important project to help deal with nuclear wastes – both in the UK, on sites such as Sellafield, and elsewhere in the world. Together we hope to provide the nuclear industry with a ready-made platform which will demonstrate the treatment of a variety of waste streams and realise the benefits of thermal waste treatment as rapidly as possible.”

Based in Irvine, Calif., Kurion acquired the GeoMelt technology in 2012. GeoMelt has been in commercial use since the 1990s and has successfully treated over 26,000 tons of waste in the U.S., Japan and Australia.

Thermal treatment of nuclear waste in the UK has seen much renewed interest recently, owing to the advantages that can be gained in terms of reduced waste volumes, compatibility with reactive metals and organics, and its ability to treat mixed generic wastes while producing a durable, non-leachable waste form.

Notes for editors

* The UK’s National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL) is a company owned by the UK Government.  It operates as a commercial business and currently receives no direct grant funding from Government. NNL has over 10,000 person-years of nuclear industry experience across the whole nuclear fuel cycle. 

* NNL provides the experts and technologies to ensure the UK nuclear industry operates safely and cost effectively today and for the future.  The company has also provided support and services to the UK and other Governments and to the European Union. NNL has facilities at Sellafield and Workington in Cumbria, Preston in Lancashire, Risley in Cheshire, Stonehouse in Gloucestershire and Harwell in Oxfordshire. For more information, please visit

* Kurion provides innovative, easily deployable technologies to accelerate project performance and compliance and substantially reduce customer radioactive waste management life-cycle costs. Founded in 2008, Kurion is backed by leading energy investors Lux Capital, Firelake Capital Management and Acadia Woods Partners. Headquartered in Irvine, Calif., Kurion operates a Technology Development Center at its radioactive materials licensed facility in Oak Ridge, Tenn., and two facilities in Richland, Wash. for non-radioactive demonstration testing, engineering and storage of mobile systems. For more information, please visit

For more information, contact:

Adrian Bull              

Director of External Relations

National Nuclear Laboratory

+44 (0) 7894 836553

Katie Wood Znameroski

Zeno Group

(Representing Kurion)+1 (650) 801-7952