A £3.9MILLION competition has been launched to find innovative ways to sort and segregate radioactive waste at some of the UK’s oldest nuclear sites.

The best applications will be awarded £50,000 for a feasibility study and the eventual winner will receive £750,000.

The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, which includes Sellafield Ltd and Magnox Ltd, has teamed up with Innovate UK to call on companies to come up with new ideas and approaches to the challenge of sorting this waste.

Robotics, sensors, artificial intelligence and autonomous systems are just some of the potential technologies which could be used for the Sort and Segregate Nuclear Waste competition.

It is open to any interested organisations – they do not have to be from a nuclear background – to form consortia and develop a plan to address the challenge.

It involves work at Sellafield and several Magnox nuclear reactor sites – the UK’s first generation of nuclear reactor.

The NDA’s Head of Innovation, Sara Huntingdon, said: “It’s been a challenging time for businesses in recent months. We hope this competition will excite organisations - inspiring them to bring forward ideas which could help transform our work in the nuclear sector.

Innovate UK’s Nuclear Innovation Lead, Derek Allen, said: “We are delighted to be working with the NDA again to deliver another Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) to help drive innovation into the nuclear decommissioning supply chain.

“We look forward to working with a wide range of organisations, particularly those who will be new to the sector, to deliver exciting and creative solutions. This is a great opportunity for UK organisations to grow their business and at the same time help deal with the country’s nuclear waste in a safer, faster and cheaper way.”

This is the second competition to encourage integrated innovation in nuclear decommissioning. The first launched in 2017 to find solutions to help decommission highly radioactive facilities at Sellafield – 15 submissions were identified in phase one as having potential, 5 then went forward to phase two to develop their ideas further and 2 winning consortia were then chosen to turn their ideas into reality.

The competition will be open for applications from August 17.

After a rigorous assessment process it is likely a number of consortia will be chosen in February 2021 to carry out a three-month feasibility study into their idea,

To find out more about the competition and how to apply, go to the Innovate UK competition page: https://apply-for-innovation-funding.service.gov.uk/competition/search

Details on the technical specifications can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/sort-and-segregate-nuclear-waste-specification