The ability to perform light water detritiation (i.e., the removal of tritium from water) enables the safe release of purified water into the environment or recycling of reactor cooling water. The technology has applications for light water reactors, which are the dominant nuclear plant designs worldwide.
“The key value of Kurion’s patent-pending detritiation technology is that it offers an economical alternative to releasing tritium into the environment and bolsters the appeal of nuclear power as a clean, safe energy source.”The decontamination of tritium (T) is particularly problematic: it is a special form of hydrogen that forms tritiated water (HTO vs. H2O), which does not lend itself to removal by conventional technologies. This is because instead of the contaminant being carried along in water in suspended or dissolved form, the water molecule itself is modified. As a result, tritiated water is particularly difficult to treat and can spread easily if it escapes into the environment.
“Preventing the releaseof tritium into the environment represents one of the last remaining environmental challenges for nuclear energy,” said Bill Gallo, chief executive officer of Kurion. “The key value of Kurion’s patent-pending detritiation technology is that it offers an economical alternative to releasing tritium into the environment and bolsters the appeal of nuclear power as a clean, safe energy source.”
John Raymont, Kurion founder and president of international operations, added, “Historically, nuclear power plants were forced to release tritium into the environment because there was no method to remove it economically. Kurion’s new detritiation system now offers a technology-based alternative with the benefit of addressing the public’s concern over environmental release.”
The industrial process of removing tritium from water has historically focused on cleaning highly contaminated “heavy water” for recycling back into nuclear reactors, such as for the CANDU design. However, this technology is prohibitively expensive for use with light water reactors. The Kurion MDS™ builds upon proven heavy water solutions and makes advances in throughput and efficiency where the tritium removal occurs. Kurion has developed an economical solution that – for the first time – would allow for recycling or clean release of reactor cooling water for light pressurized water reactors.