Conditions ILW nuclear waste inside final,disposable container  |  Innovation Award Winner
Highly Commended by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority

The Advanced Vacuum Drying System (AVDS) is an innovative, proven conditioning solution for intermediate level nuclear waste (ILW) sludge. AVDS applies heat, vacuum and refrigeration to remove moisture content from sludge.

Wastes are dried to ensure their passivity for long term storage. The waste is conditioned in its original and final, disposable container. Moisture content is removed down to a level of less than 1% wt/wt (waste dependant).


The award-winning AVDS facilitates cost efficient ‘in-box drying’ for long term, above ground storage in self-shielded Disposable Waste Containers, offering an alternative to the traditional concrete encapsulation of ILW.


  • Large scale, turnkey, closely controlled vacuum dryer for conditioning of intermediate level waste in its final, transportable, disposable container for long-term, above ground storage

  • Winner of Magnox Sites i4 Awards, Innovation Category 2014 

  • Highly commended by Nuclear Decommissioning Authority for innovative solution


A Vacuum Conditioning Unit (VCU) controls specially constructed heater panels, which encase the containers. The system incorporates high level control automation, powering up to six drying stations simultaneously, safeguarding efficiency and minimising operator intervention.


A high efficiency 2-stage condenser system removes virtually all water vapour from the process gas leaving only non-condensable gas in the exhaust line. The aqueous effluent recovered from the waste is collected in a condensate collection tank and then periodically transferred to an IBC before final disposal.


The control system accurately determines the point at which the waste has reached its required level of dryness to eliminate under-drying or wasteful over-drying.


The AVDS has an integrated Hydrogen Management System which prevents any hydrogen that may be generated during drying from forming a flammable atmosphere.


  • ​Large scale, closely controlled vacuum drying

  • Final moisture content down to less than 1% wt/wt

  • Automatic endpoint determination

  • Up to six stations simultaneously controlled

  • Waste is conditioned inside the final disposable container (Type VI cuboidal and Mosaik)

  • High level control automation

  • Hydrogen management system

  • Minimal operator intervention

  • Duty/standby condenser system for uninterrupted drying

  • Installation, commissioning, operational qualification

  • UK designed, manufactured & supported

  • Proven technology - actively drying at nuclear decommissioning sites


The video below is about the prototype AVDS, for Magnox Berkley Site. It was commissioned by Magnox and produced by Cineon Productions in 2013:

The video below, commissioned by Magnox in 2017, is about the AVDS installed at Dungeness A Site:

What Magnox said to MechaTech Systems about the prototype build:


"..just wanted to...pass on my thanks for all the effort you and your team have put into this project… I am extremely grateful for your perseverance, tenacity and hard work.."

"In a few months we have gone from having no solution at all to having a state-of-the-art rad waste drying system which is going to become very popular in the near future. Truly fantastic..."

Today, AVDS is actively conditioning waste at three UK nuclear decommissioning sites. MechaTech Systems have now completed the manufacture of two further AVDS systems for Magnox Ltd (last updated August 2019).


MechaTech Systems have also conducted small scale trials of simulant waste using our in-house vacuum drying rigs for other nuclear decommissioning clients, based in the UK and overseas.


AVDS - news
AVDS - news
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Shortlisted for the Minister's Award
NDA Newsletter November 2017
NDA News - AVDS at Dungeness
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