How Capsa began
We launched Capsa Solutions in response to a challenge set by Sellafield in 2017. The objective was to develop a safer, more cost-effective and responsible unshielded intermediate level waste (ILW) container for use in GDF storage. Our engineers have a background in nuclear engineering, and we love solving challenges in hazardous environments; we took on the opportunity to look at the problem from a broad perspective and consider the entire waste processing cycle. The initial design phase was funded through the Game Changers programme, followed by a further funding grant from Innovate UK in 2021 which enabled us to take our novel waste container to the next phase of development.
Until now, the typical process has been for site licence companies to design their own waste container solutions, whereas we wanted to bring a more innovative – some would say disruptive – approach to container design, looking at a solution from a more holistic perspective.
One of the challenges of getting our Capsa design approved by users will be the distinct but intentional move away from the bolted lid closure systems commonly seen on most waste containers. The reverse-iris design employed by Capsa demonstrates multiple benefits over a traditional bolted lid, but will require an appetite for change.
Submission to NWS
Nuclear Wast Services (NWS) is the part of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) focused on delivering contracts and relationships across the nuclear waste cycle as well as managing the delivery of the Geological Disposal Facility (GDF). NWS plans to create a revised list of approved waste containers which can be used for storing waste in a GDF facility, and our objective is for the Capsa Solutions container to be included in this catalogue.
The assessment process used by NWS is necessarily lengthy and robust, with a stepped process of submissions that must be undertaken by the waste producers. Throughout the assessment journey, the container is scrutinised to ensure that it meets very specific safety and functional requirements, with the onus on the developers to demonstrate how the container meets those demands.
Our development process has led us to the point where we’re pleased to say that we have submitted our container design concept to NWS for review against the requirements for a conceptual letter of compliance.
The next steps
Our submission for a letter of compliance was submitted on 31st March 2023, and this phase of the process is now almost complete. NWS are assessing our submission in sections, looking at each specific element of the design in turn – for example, impact analysis, transportation, handling and safety. At the end of each part of the assessment project NWS takes us through their findings so that we can discuss the results. Following the assessment process, we will be in a position to take the next step towards implementing our waste container solution across the decommissioning industry.
We are confident that the Capsa nuclear waste container will be successful in gaining approval and are extremely grateful to those businesses and individuals who have worked with us to get to this point, including Nuclear AMRC, Hydrock, PDL, Sellafield, Magnox and NWS themselves.
Alongside our submission to NWS within the UK, we are also approaching the international market, talking to waste processors to understand how the concept can be applied to nuclear waste disposal around the world, where demand is high and Capsa offers a unique and scalable solution.