National Nuclear Laboratory


Sunday 25 May 2014

Treating Plutonium Residues

Treating Plutonium Residues – An International Solution to a complex challenge

A new treatment process has been developed as a result of a collaboration between research organisations based in the UK and Australia.

Nexia Solutions, a BNFL Group company, together with the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) have identified an innovative treatment process to enable certain Plutonium containing materials, considered as waste, to be stored for long periods. 

Together, Nexia Solutions and ANSTO have been pursuing a technical programme to underpin the treatment technology – based on a ceramic waste form, known as SYNROC, originally developed by ANSTO.

The solution which employs knowledge gained from ANSTO’s SYNROC technology development, delivers:

  • A waste form suitable for long term passive storage and/or disposal
  • A waste form exhibiting high durability in a variety of repository scenarios
  • Low plutonium recovery in acid media resulting in excellent proliferation resistance

Recent progress has resulted in the production of a highly durable waste form that will enable the material to be stored in a passively safe state, either on the surface or in a repository environment.

This work has been the result of a ten-year Nexia Solutions/ANSTO collaborative relationship, covering a variety of technical topic areas.

This technology will be demonstrated in the UK at the Sellafield site within the Technology Centre, which becomes fully operational in summer 2005.

– ENDS –

Notes for editors

  1. Nexia Solutions biography
  • Nexia Solutions Limited is a new wholly owned subsidiary of British Nuclear Fuels plc (BNFL).
  • The business was previously called Nuclear Sciences and Technology Services (NSTS) and operated as a business group of BNFL.
  • The launch of the company and its new identity signals the start of a new commercial era and a redefined focus on delivering innovative technical solutions for customers at least cost.
  • The business specialises in providing customers with tailored solutions by applying the right level of technical innovation and intellectual support.
  • Nexia Solutions will continue to provide a core offering of technology services and solutions across the full nuclear fuel cycle primarily in the UK but with an increasing overseas market.
  • Main UK customers for Nexia Solutions services include the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), British Nuclear Group, Westinghouse and British Energy.
  • Nexia Solutions is a business focused on delivering technology services and solutions in four main areas:
  1. Operating Plants – Maintaining licence to operate and improving plant performanceDecommissioning and Clean up – Supporting cost reduction and programme accelerationUK Nuclear Strategy – Assisting UK nuclear policy development and implementationLaboratory Management – Managing multifaceted laboratory facilities on several sites
  • Nexia Solutions’ 1000-strong people resource comprises 60 technical capabilities in total, with 29 unique to the UK.
  • Nexia Solutions operates some of the most advanced and unique technology facilities in the world. These include the only facilities in the UK capable of carrying out research and development on highly active nuclear material and large-scale uranium work.
  1. ANSTO Biography

    The Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) is Australia’s national nuclear research and development organisation and the centre of Australian nuclear expertise. ANSTO is responsible for delivering specialised advice, scientific services and products to government, industry, academia and other research organisations. It does so through the development of new knowledge, delivery of quality services and support for business opportunities. ANSTO’s nuclear infrastructure includes the research reactor HIFAR (High Flux Australian Reactor), particle accelerators, radio-pharmaceutical production facilities, and a range of other unique research facilities. HIFAR is Australia’s only nuclear reactor. It is used to produce radioactive products for use in medicine and industry, as a source of neutron beams for scientific research and to irradiate silicon for semiconductor applications. At the end of 2006, HIFAR will be replaced by a research reactor called OPAL (Open Pool Australian Light-water reactor). OPAL will be a state-of-the art research facility producing superior quality neutron beams for materials research. It also has the capacity to produce a higher volume and variety of radioisotopes for Australian medicine.

    The organisation also operates the National Medical Cyclotron, an accelerator facility used to produce certain short-lived radioisotopes for nuclear medicine procedures. This is located in the grounds of the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Camperdown, close to the central business district. ANSTO has a salaried staff of approximately 850. Its main site is located at the Lucas Heights Science and Technology Centre (LHSTC), 40 km south west of Sydney’s Central Business District. The LHSTC occupies 70 hectares and is surrounded by a 1.6 km buffer zone. ANSTO’s general purpose is prescribed by the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation Act 1987 and translated into action through corporate drivers of vision, mission and strategic goals.

  2. Contact Details


  • Peter O’Brien, Nexia Solutions Communications

t: 00 44 (0)1925 832074

m: 00 44 (0)7801 856257

e: peter.o’brien@nexia

  • Gareth Thomas, Nexia Solutions Communications

t: 00 44 (0)1925 832319

m: 00 44 (0)7740 819728 (mobile)

e: gareth.x.thomas@nexia


  • Sharon Kelly, Media Adviser

t: (02) 9717 9575

m: 0400 394 085