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Works begins on Romania's tritium removal facility

11. 06. 2024

As a Candu pressurised heavy water reactor ages, tritium - an isotope of hydrogen - accumulates in its moderator and heat transport systems. Increased levels of tritium can significantly contribute to personnel dose rates and emissions levels in the environment. Tritium removal technology is designed to capture and process tritium so that it can be properly stored and recycled, thereby reducing environmental impact, personnel exposure levels and enhancing workplace safety.

The Cernavoda tritium removal facility - the world's third, and the first in Europe - will use technology developed by the Romanian National Research and Development Institute for Cryogenic and Isotopic Technologies, a scientific research and technological development unit under the coordination of the Ministry of Research, Innovation and Digitalisation.

The tritium removal facility will include several high-technology areas: liquid phase isotopic separation, cryogenic distillation and high-vacuum operation. The tritium extracted will be stored in secure and safe specialised containers ready for future uses - which could include fuel for future fusion reactors.

In June 2023 KHNP signed an engineering, procurement and construction contract worth KRW260 billion (USD200 million) with Nuclearelectrica for the new facility following a public procurement process. And in January 2024 Nuclearelectrica secured a loan agreement of EUR145 million (USD159 million) with the European Investment Bank towards the project, which has a completion timeline estimated to be 50 months.