The Canadian company's Advanced Water Distillation (AWD) technology was initially developed for pressurised heavy water reactors. A test plant in Oakville, Ontario that has been in operation for a year has shown the detritiation of light water using AWD to be five times as efficient as that of heavy water, the company said. A multi-column demonstration plant is to be built in 2020.
Tritium is a heavy radioactive isotope of hydrogen that can replace ordinary hydrogen in light water or deuterium in heavy water, and occurs both naturally and in small amounts during the operation of nuclear power plants. Tritiated water molecules cannot be separated from light or heavy water by conventional filtration since all water molecules behave very similarly.
Water containing very low levels of tritium and other radioactive substances is normally released from nuclear power plants under tightly controlled and monitored conditions. Pressurised heavy water reactors - Candus - produce significantly more tritium than most other types of reactors owing to the use of heavy water (deuterium) in the moderator and heat transport system. Facilities to remove tritium from heavy water from Candu reactors currently operate at Darlington in Canada and Wolsong in South Korea.
Laker says its AWD technology exploits the latest advances in water distillation equipment design and configuration, and in testing has already achieved a five-fold equipment height reduction and 80% energy consumption reduction over conventional water distillation. The process operates under benign conditions of purified warm water under vacuum, which eliminates the possibility of chronic leakage and associated environmental emissions, it says.
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