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BNS Nuclear Services has created the Versatile Encapsulation Plant (VEP), originally for nuclear power stations producing both solid and sludge waste.

BNS believes that VEP will prove to be cost effective when compared with the current methodology and was encouraged by the results from its test programme.

VEP has the ability to process high solids content sludges, ion exchange media and solid waste, whether it is low level or intermediate level.

The system is currently being proof of scale trialled against competing technologies as part of a Sellafield project risk reduction initiative.

The system consists of the equipment necessary to receive sludge waste streams, remove excess water and concentrate the waste.

VEP then adds a pre-mixed wet encapsulation medium, or grout, and transfers the dewatered sludge and encapsulation medium into a static mixer mounted inside the container.

The ‘mixed’ sludge and encapsulation stream is deposited into a waste container of any shape suitable for long-term storage.

‘As well as processing sludge waste streams, VEP has the ability to encapsulate solid waste in an inactive grout or if desired, encapsulate the solids in a radioactive sludge rich grout,’ said Doug Kirk, technical consultant at BNS and the man behind VEP.

Not only is VEP able to incorporate a higher level of sludge or ion exchange waste than is likely with the current in-drum mixing systems, it can also be used with any type of container.

A cuboid, stackable storage container is the most efficient.

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