A new consent-based process for siting a Geological Disposal Facility (GDF) was launched by the UK government in December 2018. Proposals for the implementation of this process are captured in a revised ‘Working with Communities’ framework published as part of the launch. This project draws on recent experience in recognising that ‘the availability of clear, evidence-based information on both technical issues, and the process of working with communities, will enable communities to engage in the process with more confidence’.
Digital twins are being used increasingly by designers to develop what is called “optimised design” of significant nuclear infrastructure projects. Digital twins are computational representations of individual physical systems that can be used to inform all phases of a typical plant lifecycle. Scientists and engineers recognise that the successful implementation of virtual reality will require new ways to gather, process and share increasingly large volumes of data.
The aim of this project will be to assess the contribution that digital twins could make to the provision of clear, evidence-based information to all stakeholders in the GDF and also how they might be employed within the consent-based process to enhance public confidence.
The project will develop a specification for a digital twin of both disposal waste forms and the GDF environment, outlining parameters that could be modelled and how validation could be achieved. Methods for employing the digital twin within the consent-based process as a means to promote stakeholder confidence will also be examined, including options for model ownership/governance, use of virtual/augmented reality to enhance communication and the potential for citizen involvement in digital twin development.
The programme is funded by EPSRC, industrial partners and participating institutions.