Public Funding For Innovation

4 June 2013

Costain has secured funding from the Government linked *Technology Strategy Board’s £18million competition to develop the civil nuclear supply chain. Costain has been selected to develop three innovative technologies to reduce the cost of treating and storing nuclear waste.

This competition brings together experienced organisations (such as Costain) with small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) and universities to develop the supply chain and encourage innovation. It was co-funded by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA).

Costain will work with a range of UK organisations to deliver these technologies. In collaboration with Tetronics International, Costain will develop a plasma waste vitrification system which will reduce the volume, and significantly enhance the stability, of intermediate level waste (ILW).

In a further project being led by Bradtec and supported by Studsvik, Hyder Consulting and the University of Manchester, Costain is developing a system for the gasification of graphite from decommissioned nuclear reactors. This will significantly reduce the volume of graphite waste.

Costain is also working with Createc to trial on site a system to measure the depth of contamination in structures. This will enable decontamination measures to be targeted more accurately and reduce the volume of material to be treated.

In making the announcement, the Government’s Business Secretary Vince Cable, said: “There are huge global opportunities that the UK is well placed to take advantage of in the nuclear industry. Our strong research base will help develop exciting new technologies that can be commercialised here and then exported across the globe.”

Currently, Costain is delivering a number of engineering and construction projects and framework contracts across the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) estate. These have provided the insight into where technological innovation is required to address the challenges posed by the UK’s nuclear legacy wastes.

Bryony Livesey, Costain Research and Technology Manager, said: “I am delighted that Costain has secured these projects from the Technology Strategy Board competition. We look forward to working with our partners to develop new technologies which can play a key role in reducing the costs of nuclear waste management in the UK.”

Mark Rogerson, Costain Natural Resources Division Managing Director, said: “Long term storage of nuclear waste is a major challenge facing the UK. By lowering the cost of processing and reducing the volume of waste to be stored, Costain is helping to meet the critical national needs of our country.”

David Willetts, Minister for Universities and Science, said: “The Technology Strategy Board is playing a vital role in making sure innovative SMEs across the UK can bridge the valley of death between the research stage and the market place. Businesses such as Costain are setting the pace for others to follow and making sure the UK stays at the front of the global race for technology and innovation in the nuclear industry.”

*The Technology Strategy Board is the UK’s innovation agency.  Its goal is to accelerate economic growth by stimulating and supporting business-led innovation.  Sponsored by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), the Technology Strategy Board brings together business, research and the public sector, supporting and accelerating the development of innovative products and services to meet market needs, tackle major societal challenges and help build the future economy. For more information please visit