Cavendish Nuclear is pleased to announce that it has been recognised as an innovator in the field of nuclear decommissioning after securing funding from the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) and Innovate UK for a radioactive waste challenge.

The Cavendish Nuclear led team brings together experts from parent company Babcock International, alongside the Bristol Robotics Laboratory, Clifton Photonics Ltd., Structure Vision Ltd and Iconsys Ltd, to develop the next generation autonomous waste sorting, segregation and packaging system known as OptiSORT.

Cavendish Nuclear’s Head of Innovation and Technology, Tony Burnett said:

“Through OptiSORT, we aim to deliver truly autonomous radioactive waste sorting, segregation and packaging solutions which will minimise safety risks to operators, result in significant productivity benefits, maintain quality standards and improve efficiency to reduce costs”

The work draws on experience from a number of successful complex waste retrieval design and build projects delivered by Cavendish Nuclear to support the decommissioning and site restoration programme at the Magnox Berkeley site. This experience has helped inform OptiSORT development objectives to create a fully autonomous system by combining existing sensor technology and hardware, with an innovative control system to achieve real-time autonomous operation. The system will be capable of sorting, segregating and efficiently packaging radioactive wastes, straddling the Intermediate and Low Level Waste boundaries, without continuous human intervention or direction.

The OptiSORT system is also expected to make a significant contribution to UK Nuclear 2050 and cost reduction objectives through step changes in waste management approaches.

Cavendish Nuclear’s Waste Strategy Director, Val Drake:

“The savings achieved by automating repetitive, labour intensive processes, such as the sorting and segregation of radioactive wastes, will increase productivity, reduce the risk of human error and avoid exposing operators to radiological risk”

The aim of this phase of development is to provide a non-radioactive demonstration of OptiSORT to an expert panel, assembled by the NDA, who will judge the ‘fitness-for-purpose’ of our solution.


Notes to Editors

  • £750,000 worth of funding has been provided to Cavendish Nuclear and to four other consortia, to undertake fifteen month long development projects. Phase 2 project work is due to commence in September 2021 and will end, following system demonstrations, in December 2022.
  • Cavendish Nuclear, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Babcock International Group, is a leading nuclear solutions company. Operating in the UK and internationally, we provide our customers with a comprehensive range of critical nuclear solutions across the clean energy and civil decommissioning markets. From the decommissioning of legacy nuclear facilities, through to supporting nuclear generation and new build, our role is to support our customers to address the nuclear legacy and help deliver new build to ensure that nuclear is a key part of the energy solution for meeting the UK’s net zero commitments by 2050.Our priority is supporting our customers to achieve their goals, applying innovation to deliver for them safer, faster, at lower cost.


For further information, please contact: Yvonne Preston: [email protected] / 07971 304338