SCK CEN Boosting Circular Economy In Nuclear Dismantling

SCK CEN (ENS Corporate Member) and CRM (Centre for Metallurgical Research) received the green light from the European Commission to continue the development of a melting furnace for research purposes.

The nuclear melting furnace for research purposes – known as SMELD – is a project being undertaken by the two research centres, which aim to complete the work construction by 2026.

This furnace will encourage the creation of a circular economy in nuclear dismantling, by enabling larger quantities of metal to be given a second life than can possibly be achieved using the melting technologies currently available.

Indeed, according to the common targets, this facility will enable larger quantities of metal resulting from dismantling to be recycled, particularly focusing on material that is too radioactive to be recycled immediately, but not radioactive enough to be disposed of as radioactive waste.

In Europe, more than 70 nuclear reactors have already closed down and it is estimated that dozens more will follow in the coming years […] Recycling and re-using the maximum quantity of materials makes it possible to reduce the ecological footprint of dismantling. 

said Guido Mulier, a dismantling expert at SCK CEN.  

By capturing most of the radioisotopes during melting and separating them from the metal, the advanced furnace would already dramatically reduce the quantity of radioactive waste. 

The furnace will undergo an extensive development process, in which advanced thermodynamic simulations will be combined with laboratory-scale provisional feasibility and optimisation tests, carried out by both centres.

Read the full SCK CEN Press Release.