14 successful companies have been awarded contracts to come up with innovative approaches to remotely sort and segregate radioactive waste.
The ‘Sort and Seg’ innovation competition, worth £3.9 million in total, was launched in July 2020. The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) – in partnership with Magnox Ltd, Sellafield Ltd and Innovate UK – set the challenge of coming up with proposals for using autonomous technology to sort and segregate mixed radioactive wastes at the UK’s oldest nuclear sites.
The first phase of the competition is now complete and contracts, worth up to £60k each, have been awarded to 14 consortia that will now come up with feasibility studies for their proposals, including robotics, advanced sensors and artificial intelligence.
The NDA’s Head of Innovation, Sara Huntingdon, said:
The reaction to ‘Sort and Seg’ has been incredible – we have received the best response we’ve ever had for this kind competition.
It’s really exciting that most of the successful organisations are bringing in experience and ideas from other sectors and I’m really looking forward to working together with our partners and with all the winners to see how these ideas develop.
Competitions like this are an important way of engaging our supply chain, encouraging diversity of thinking and finding innovative techniques and technologies from other sectors to help deliver the NDA’s decommissioning mission and help meet the aims of the Nuclear Sector Deal.
Derek Allen, Innovation Lead, Energy Clean Growth and Infrastructure Lead at Innovate UK, said:
We are delighted to be working with the NDA again to help drive innovation into the nuclear decommissioning supply chain and deliver things faster, cheaper and safer.
The response to the competition was excellent and some really exciting projects have been funded. There are some great examples of technology transfer and I look forward to seeing these innovative projects progress over the next few months.
The initial feasibility studies will be delivered in May, with the winners competing for a number of contracts – each worth up to £900k – for 15-month ‘demonstrator projects’.
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