National Nuclear Laboratory


Tuesday 17 November 2015

NNL and Kurion Complete Initial Commissioning of GeoMelt® Vitrification System Prior to Deployment at NNL’s Central Laboratory, Sellafield

Successful First Step towards Establishing a Full-Scale, GeoMelt® In-Container Vitrification plant at the Sellafield Site in 2016

The UK’s National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL) and Kurion announced a key milestone in their collaboration to establish a full-scale, GeoMelt® In-Container Vitrification (ICV™) plant at NNL’s flagship Central Laboratory on the Sellafield site in 2016. The team successfully completed the non-radioactive testing phase of its commissioning programme, capping it off with a paid demonstration for the UK Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) on simulated Sellafield waste. The system will now be disassembled and moved to the Central Laboratory for final commissioning followed by commercial operation. NNL and Kurion intend to increase the capacity of the system in 2016.

The UK Radioactive Waste Inventory lists over 300,000 tonnes of intermediate-level waste and low-level waste that could be suitable for thermal treatment with GeoMelt®. It is uniquely capable of processing varied forms of waste simultaneously, enabling it to turn liabilities, such as contaminated soils and inorganic ion exchange media, into assets as glass formers. GeoMelt® is also uniquely suited for the treatment of radioactive contaminated asbestos, which is present at many of the plants undergoing decommissioning.

“The cold-commissioning of the GeoMelt® system is an important milestone as part of our core mission to evaluate options to improve the lifecycle cost for managing and dispositioning waste streams in the UK nuclear complex, including problematic waste streams that currently lack a path to disposal,” said Nick Hanigan, Director of Waste Management and Decommissioning for the National Nuclear Laboratory.

“Furthermore, this collaboration with Kurion brings together world-class scientists and engineers to accelerate the treatment of hazardous and radioactive waste.”

The system started up safely, reliably and achieved its design goals. This commissioning success was made possible due to an extensive programme of pre-energised system checks, safety evaluations and reflected the experience gained over the 26,000 tonnes of glass that GeoMelt® has produced in the US, UK, Japan and Australia since the 1990s.

The GeoMelt® system at NNL was designed so that it can accommodate both small test melts and full-scale melts in 3 m3 disposal containers. This allows for a uniquely flexible platform to demonstrate, test and process radioactively contaminated and other hazardous waste streams using vitrification. In 2016 Kurion and NNL plan to increase the total throughput of the system to a maximum annualised processing capacity of over 200 tonnes and will evaluate the installation of additional systems. In contrast to other processes, GeoMelt® reduces the volume of waste and creates a superior, leach-resistant waste form that decreases packaging, storage, handling, transportation and disposal costs. As a result, it lowers the lifecycle costs for managing and dispositioning waste streams.

“We are proud to work with the UK’s National Nuclear Laboratory to install a GeoMelt® system at its Central Laboratory, which is emerging as an innovation hub for developing solutions for radioactive waste around the world,” said John Raymont, founder of Kurion. “Leading decision makers from the US, Japan and Europe have come to respect the great work taking place at the NNL, and we intend to use this new system as a demonstration platform for the worldwide nuclear market.”

Last year NNL joined an agreement with the UK Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy and its office of Environmental Management to collaborate on radioactive waste and nuclear materials cleanup and management. 


The UK’s National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL) offers a breadth of technical products and services covering the complete nuclear fuel cycle, from fuel manufacture and power generation to reprocessing, waste treatment and disposal. Most of our work is focused around our sites in the North West of England, and we are the second biggest industrial employer in West Cumbria.

With over 10,000 man years of nuclear experience across the fuel cycle, coupled with world-leading nuclear R&D facilities, we deliver the experts and technologies that ensure the UK nuclear industry operates safely, efficiently and cost effectively.


Kurion creates technology solutions to access, separate and stabilize nuclear and hazardous materials and to isolate them safely from the environment for a cleaner future. Kurion’s suite of technologies and engineering capabilities offer a platform to address the needs of the most-challenging nuclear and hazardous sites worldwide. Founded in 2008, Kurion operates eight facilities across California, Washington, Colorado, Idaho, and Texas and has subsidiaries in Warrington, UK, and Tokyo, Japan.

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