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Project List » AMS research of the Tritium behavior in materials used in detritiation facilities of the water coolant from nuclear power plants, with the aim of protecting the personnel and environment

AMS research of the Tritium behavior in materials used in detritiation facilities of the water coolant from nuclear power plants, with the aim of protecting the personnel and environment

Acronym: AMSTRIT
Contracting Authority: Executive Agency for Higher Education, Research, Development and Innovation Funding (UEFISCDI)
Number / Date of the contract: 72-185 / 01.10.2008
Parteneriate in domeniile prioritare
Project Manager: Mihaela Enachescu
Partners: "Horia Hulubei" National Institute for Physics and Nuclear Engineering; National Research and Development Institute for Cryogenics and Isotopic Technologies - ICSI Rm.Valcea; National Institute of Materials Physics; Polytechnic University Bucharest
Starting date / finishing date: 2008-10-01 / 2011-10-01
Project value: 2000000 RON
One of the major problems in our country is to construct a detritiation facility at the nuclear power plant from Cernavoda in order to extract the tritium from the used heavy water from the cooling and moderator system of the Nuclear Reactor. The detritiation is very important because the concentration of tritium rises up year after year and considering the idea of creating new reactors, the detritiation is necessary more than ever.

Actually, the tritiated heavy water vapours are kept by a system of dry sieves in which the tritium is retained molecularly. The efficiency of these sieves is very small comparing with the use of a detritiation facility that would eliminate the annual production of tritium from the moderator (about 5 Ci/kg. a year). So, the detritiation facility is extremely necessary for a lower risk of contamination of the workers and of the population living in the proximity of such facilities. On the other hand, by introducing such a facility less heavy water will be lost since there will be no need necessary to deposit big quantities of tritiated water for a period of about 10 years in order to lower its radioactivity. As concerning the population, the facility lowers the risks of contamination at values lower than 1% comparing with the natural and medical irradiation.

The purpose of this project is to characterize precisely by the use of AMS nanotechnology, the materials being used in the detritiation facility, in order to avoid the appearance of some leaks, release or looses in small quantities which could seriously affect the personnel and the environmental surroundings.

The proposal project aims the study of the tritium and deuterium in different materials such as different types of steels, metals like: Ti, Zn, V, Pd (Cu, Al) as well as in “glassy carbon” using the Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (AMS). This is a very sensible method, capable to distinguish between very small quantities of tritium or deuterium in solid samples and being able to determine down to 10.6 of tritium atoms in a sample. It needs very little amount of material from the sample. Another major advantage of this method is the very high precision concerning the depth distribution of the tritium and deuterium comparing with the one obtained by the existent chemical or physical methods. The determination of the very small quantities of tritium and deuterium (under the limits of detection of the usual methods of measurement) will allow the characterization of the evolution, after 10 – 15 years, of the features of the materials used for the storage and circulation of the tritium gas and of the tritiated water in the detritiation facility in a short time of about 2 years.

There will be investigated by AMS the following aspects (in model experiments): the absorption on the surface of the solid materials of tritium gas and from different concentration of tritiated water (TOH), the diffusion in the materials to be studied – plates, metal foils, powder, sponge – (by profilometry), the retention and permeability in the materials already mentioned. The research will study the dependence of the above mentioned properties depending on the concentration of the tritium and deuterium, on the pressure, the time of contact, the temperature and the dependence of different treatments on the materials (such as the covering on the surface with very thin shields of different metals (Cu, Ni) or with films of polymers). The results of these researches will be useful for the construction of the future detritiation facility of the tritiated water resulted after thefunctioning of the CANDU nuclear reactors, and for the storage of the tritium gas or tritiated water in safe conditions for the environment andpersonnel. Finally, the obtained results are also useful in the construction of nuclear fusion plants in the near future.


1. Characterizing of methods used in study of hydrogen isotopes behavior in different materials. Establishing in partnership to work plan (2008-12-12)
2. Upgrade of methods used in relate with established analysis. Development of material and equipment base. (2009-12-12)
3. Study of hydrogen isotopes behavior in different conditions of concentration, temperature, contact time, and pressure of tritiated water and tritium gas specific for a detritiation facility (2010-12-12)
4. Study of hydrogen isotopes behavior in materials treated in different ways for reducing penetration depth.  (2011-06-15)
5. Final study by depth profiling AMS on feature of materials used in a detritiation facility. Prevision of tritium permeability increase in these materials (2011-10-01)

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