Based in Berkeley, California, Deep Isolation aims to provide a solution to the issue of safe nuclear waste disposal with its directional drilling technology, which isolates nuclear waste deep underground.
No country has managed to successfully dispose of high-level nuclear waste or spent nuclear fuel, a factor seen as a significant barrier to the nuclear waste industry, and the reason often cited for opposition of nuclear energy.
“The Deep Isolation method in our view is safer and more efficient than prior competing alternatives and avoids the complexities and risks of putting people underground to emplace and monitor the wastes,” said Kent Cole, president and CEO of NAC International. “We are eager to work with Deep Isolation and its other strategic partners to break through the barriers that have previously constrained implementation of disposal solutions.”
Deep Isolation’s process involves creating small diameter drill hole repositories in carefully targeted rock formations, 1-3km in length, where multiple nuclear waste canisters are placed in the horizontal section of the drill hole. The repositories are isolated by the impermeable host rock and overlying rock layers, and can be tailored to suit several waste forms.
In an earlier Q&A with The Engineer, Deep Isolation’s director of Sciences, John Grimsich, explained the advantages to horizontal drill hole repositories: safety in depth; access to more geologic formations; flexibility in siting and repository design; modularity; minimal disturbance of the host rock; no humans underground; more rapid implementation; and more affordability.
Partners Deep Isolation and NAC signed an initial agreement in 2019, and in July 2020 agreed to design, manufacture and supply the canisters that will be used to safely store and dispose of nuclear waste in deep boreholes. According to the terms of the deal, NAC will take a seat on Deep Isolation’s board of investors.