GSL has recently completed a project on laser decontamination of inactive metallic surfaces with its partners NNL (National Nuclear Laboratory) and VTT (Technical Research Centre of Finland), as part of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) Direct Research Portfolio (DRP) framework on Integrated Waste Management and Side Decommissioning and Remediation. Laser decontamination (or ablation) has been identified as a promising technology to minimise the waste generated during dry decontamination tasks with large potential savings for the NDA estate due to waste re-classification and minimal secondary waste generation compared to wet decontamination techniques.
Project achievements included:
- Demonstration that laser decontamination is effective on both mild (carbon) and stainless steel.
- Provision of a comprehensive understanding of secondary waste arisings (fume and particulate composition, quantity, behaviour, and distribution).
GSL provided project management, coordination and technical review of the outputs. VTT performed non-active experimental trials and analysis, and NNL supported analysis and integration of the experimental results. Trials were performed using three laser systems with different power ratings (low: 100 Watts, medium: 500 Watts, high: 1000 Watts) to decontaminate different types of coated and uncoated carbon and stainless steel surfaces. A key conclusion is that laser ablation is capable of successfully decontaminating steel surfaces in all cases tested. However, to increase the technology readiness level of laser ablation, further experiments would be needed to test decontamination of active surfaces.
The project has been highlighted in the recently published “Annual Research and Development Review 2021/2022” of Sellafield Ltd, which can be found here.