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New Project on Laser Decontamination

Eden NE are pleased to have supported University of Bristol in achieving a new R&D funding award on laser decontamination.

Since the beginning of 2021, Eden NE has been leading a project on laser decontamination, as part of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) Direct Research Portfolio (DRP) – Eden NE being one of the lead suppliers for the NDA DRP framework on Integrated Waste Management and Site Decommissioning and Remediation (IWM&SDR). This project has involved Eden NE providing project and technical management, with University of Bristol – one of Eden NE's DRP partners – designing and constructing a new laser cleaning facility.

On the back of this DRP project, and with additional support from the NDA, University of Bristol has subsequently made a successful application for new R&D funding as part of the 'UK Japan Civil Nuclear Programme: Phase 8'. University of Bristol's new project will involve collaboration with Tokyo University; the UK Japan R&D programme is jointly funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) in the UK and the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) in Japan.

Compared to more common nuclear decontamination techniques (such as pressure washing and mechanical scabbling), laser cleaning is attractive because it can produce much smaller amounts of secondary waste, and it can also be deployed remotely through a fibre optic or by a robot. R&D is required to optimise the laser cleaning parameters to make it suitable for use on a variety of different materials and contamination types that may be experienced in nuclear industry situations.

The NDA DRP project has involved procurement of equipment and software from companies including Applied Photonics Ltd (Skipton, North Yorkshire), BOFA International (Poole, Dorset), Clifton Photonics (Bristol) and IPG Photonics; a significant amount of the overall project spend has been with 'Small or Medium Enterprise' companies (SMEs). The French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (Commissariat à Energie Atomique; CEA) have also provided expert advice on laser cleaning equipment, while University of Manchester and the Henry Royce Institute for Advanced Materials have carried out experimental characterisation of materials to be laser-cleaned.

The new UK-Japan project will overlap with the DRP project, with University of Bristol having carried out the first laser cleaning experiments – using the new NDA-funded equipment – in October 2021. 

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