Nuclear waste cleanup firm Kurion today announced it has completed construction and testing of a prototype system that removes tritium from contaminated water.
Kurion says the Modular Detritiation System (MDS) is a cost-effective system to manage tritium and eliminate the release of tritiated water to the environment.
Water treatment systems at nuclear sites remove many contaminating isotopes, leaving tritium, a form of hydrogen that becomes part of the water molecule itself, forming tritiated water. As a result, tritiated water has traditionally been difficult and expensive to treat and can spread easily if it escapes into the environment.
Kurion says its prototype MDS offers operators of nuclear sites a new tool for managing tritium, including the ability to reduce or recycle their water to eliminate the need to release tritiated water into the environment.
The MDS has completed a cold and hot commissioning phase.
The company says its system is the world’s first to process large volumes of light water across a range of concentrations to remove tritium contamination and allows for the recycling or clean release of reactor cooling water for light water reactors.
The industrial process of removing tritium from water has historically focused on cleaning highly contaminated “heavy water” for recycling back into nuclear reactors. However, this technology is expensive for use with light water reactors. The Kurion MDS builds upon heavy water systems and makes advances in throughput and efficiency for light water detritiation.
The new system will use a full-scale catalytic exchange column.
Kurion says it is currently in discussions with a number of customers in the US and abroad to introduce its mature MDS technology. Interest ranges across both operating and decommissioning plants.
The new business will target the nuclear sector — facilities and research centers that are in operation or being decommissioned — as well as to the oil industry and the pharmaceuticals industry.