NSG Wins NDA Innovation Award

NSG Environmental Ltd is delighted to announce that it has won the SME Innovation award at the annual NDA Estate Supply Chain Awards, which took place on Wednesday 4 November at EventCity in Manchester. The award recognises NSG’s success in supporting Magnox in the development of a simple and robust cost-effective solution based on the novel combination of a cement and organic matrix to recover and solidify contaminated water from Harwell’s ILW storage tubes.

Following on from scoping studies undertaken by Magnox at the Harwell site, NSG applied their knowledge and experience of cement-based systems and polymeric absorbents to develop a suitable product. This involved defining the key parameters essential to both operational performance of the product and information required to support a modification of the extant letter of compliance (LoC). The application was very novel; the use of a combined inorganic (cement) and organic (Nochar 960) matrix for water recovery applications had not been attempted before, nor had it been previously endorsed for disposal.

NSG undertook a series of trials that explored a range of cement products and formulation ratios that optimised operational performance in terms of water absorbed and curing time. This involved close liaison with supply chain partners Nochar and Rutpen, who provided a range of bag geometries, from which a subset were identified as ideal. Using its in-depth knowledge of the LoC process and requirements for disposability, NSG prepared an addendum to the extant LoC, which made the case for use of the product in water recovery operations and also for disposal via Harwell’s already established processes. This was endorsed by Radioactive Waste Management Ltd with few comments or clarifications required.

The support provided by NSG helped to facilitate the use of existing equipment and infrastructure, which eliminated the need for a significant amount of additional engineering to develop equipment to retrieve and encapsulate the waste remotely. Over a period of 12 months, savings were realised on a ‘critical path’ waste retrieval operation, along with over £10m in project costs. The solution was implemented in October 2014. Since then, over 1500 bags have been successfully deployed and processed.

In addition to the award, NSG’s project partners Rutpen and Stuart Wilson of Magnox were also Highly Commended in the same category for their valuable contributions to the project.