SELLAFIELD, in partnership with the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority and Magnox Ltd, have announced the winners of a competition to sort and segregate radioactive waste remotely.

On Tuesday it was announced that 14 companies were awarded contracts to come up with innovative approaches to remotely sort and segregate radioactive waste.

The ‘Sort and Seg’ innovation competition is worth a total of £3.9m and was launched in July. 

It set the challenge of coming up with proposals for using autonomous technology to sort and segregate mixed radioactive wastes at the UK’s oldest nuclear sites.

The first phase of the competition is now complete and contracts, worth up to £60k each, were awarded to 14 firms that will come up with feasibility studies for their proposals, including robotics, advanced sensors and artificial intelligence.

Sara Huntingdon, the decommissioning authority's head of innovation, said: "The reaction to ‘Sort and Seg’ has been incredible.

"We have received the best response we’ve ever had for this kind of competition.

"It’s really exciting that most of the successful organisations are bringing in experience and ideas from other sectors and I’m really looking forward to working together with our partners and with all the winners to see how these ideas develop.

Competitions like 'Sort and Seg', according to the authority "are an important way of engaging our supply chain, encouraging diversity of thinking and finding innovative techniques and technologies from other sectors to help deliver the NDA’s decommissioning mission and help meet the aims of the Nuclear Sector Deal".

Derek Allen, innovation lead, Energy Clean Growth and Infrastructure Lead at Innovate UK, said: "We are delighted to be working with the decommissioning authority again to help drive innovation into the nuclear decommissioning supply chain and deliver things faster, cheaper and safer.

"The response to the competition was excellent and some really exciting projects have been funded. 

"There are some great examples of technology transfer and I look forward to seeing these innovative projects progress over the next few months."

The initial feasibility studies will be delivered in May, with the winners competing for a number of contracts - each worth up to £900k - for 15-month ‘demonstrator projects’.
The companies that have been awarded contracts include: AB5 Consulting Ltd, Jacobs Clean Energy Ltd, A.N. Technology Ltd, Atkins Ltd, Barrnon Ltd, Cavendish Nuclear Ltd, Chilton Computing Ltd, Create Technologies Ltd, Delkia Ltd, EDF Energy R&D Centre Ltd, Forth Engineering (Cumbria) Ltd, Nuvia Ltd, Red Marine Engineering Ltd and Veolia Nuclear Solutions Ltd.

Earlier this month it was announced that Tony Meggs is to be appointed as the new chair of  Sellafield Ltd.

He will take up his post for a three-year term on May 3, replacing Lorraine Baldry who has led the Sellafield board since May 2018.

Mr Meggs was chair of Crossrail, in 2019.