Waste Residues Processing

Here at NNL, we treat a wide variety of by-product materials from the nuclear fuel cycle. Most come from uranium purification and fuel manufacture, but some are produced from uranium enrichment and the decommissioning of obsolete plants.

Treatment is defined as the recovery of uranium from residues, its recycle to the fuel cycle, or preparation for long-term storage and final disposal or discharge to the environment of the remainder of the residue.

A phased approach

Our systematic, flexible approach to residue assessment and treatment involves up to five stages:

  • Phase 1: For any unknown, or poorly understood residue, we first study the available historic data
  • Phase 1A: Our characterisation programmes involve inspection and sampling of the residue stock, instrumental analysis and small scale chemical testing
  • Phase 2: We test the suitability of the residue for the existing plant (e.g. on customers' premises) or the suitability of a previously developed process
  • Phase 3: Where Phase 1, 1A and/or 2 show a residue is not suitable for treatment via existing processes, we tailor a process to treat the residue. Typically, processes unsuited for existing plants are carried out in the A709 Chemical Process Development Plant in our Preston Laboratory
  • Phase 4: We develop the selected process to a point where it can be implemented on a full scale. Usually, this phase is only needed for very complex multi-step processes


The benefits to such a systematic approach include the early identification of processing routes or processing issues. It also stops our customers from investing in the wrong plant or process.


Email: customers@nnl.co.uk