Europe’s First Tritium Removal Facility at Cernavoda NPP

On June 27th, in Seoul, S.N. Nuclearelectrica (SNN) and Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power (KHNP) signed the Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) contract for the completion of Europe’s first Tritium Removal Facility (CTRF) at Cernavoda Nuclear Power Plant (Cernavoda NPP).

CTRF will remove the tritium from installations, resulting in increased protection of the environment, in full alignment with Nuclearelectrica’s and Europe’s ESG objectives.

Using a Romanian innovative technology, developed by the Romanian National Research and Development Institute for Cryogenic and Isotopic Technologies (ICSI Rm. Valcea), Cernavoda Tritium Removal Facility (CTRF) will be the world’s third and Europe’s first Tritium Removal Facility and will give Romania the opportunity to become a European hub for tritium production and export – the fuel candidate of future clean fusion reactors. Also, Romania has the opportunity to develop its suppliers’ chain and become a centre for development and export of the Romanian tritium removal technology and know-how, using localized factories and workforce.

Tritium, an isotope of hydrogen, is mainly produced in heavy water-moderated-power reactors (such as CANDU). CTRF will remove tritium from the heavy water of the CANDU reactors and installations at Cernavoda NPP. The resulted tritium can be further used for the future fusion reactors, such as ITER, and will be the first indigenous European source of fuel, using a Romanian technology in partnership with Korea. Fusion power plants will use hydrogen isotopes deuterium and tritium to fuel the fusion reaction and will convert the energy released into electricity.

The conceptual design of CTRF, completed by Romanian ICSI Rm. Valcea, uses the most advanced TRF technology, including up to date safety requirements for a tritium industrial facility as specified by CNCAN, the Romanian Nuclear Regulator.

“We are happy to implement a Romanian innovative technology, based on years of research and development, a true statement of Romania’s leadership in nuclear industry. KHNP, a leading expert in the field is the right partner to support us in delivering a safe and reliable project. The Tritium Removal Facility represents Nuclearelectrica’s constant commitment to safe operation and protection of the environment and population. Our purpose, through our investment projects, technological advancement and international cooperation, is to provide Romania a leading role in the nuclear industry and support its energy security. I am fully appreciative of National Research and Development Institute for Cryogenic and Isotope Technologies – ICSI Rm Valcea, my team at Nuclearelectrica and our partners for their efforts and shared vision for a sustainable future for the next generation,” Cosmin Ghita, Chief Executive Officer, Nuclearelectrica, said.

Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power (KHNP) has been selected as an Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) contractor following a public procurement procedure. KHNP is highly experienced in developing similar projects and is operating a similar facility at the Wolsong Nuclear Power Plant site, the Wolsong Tritium Removal Facility.

The Tritium Removal Facility project will benefit from international world class cooperation in the field from Romania, capitalizing on the National Research and Development Institute for Cryogenic and Isotope Technologies – ICSI Rm. Valcea research expertise, Korean, USA, Canadian and European countries.

Nuclearelectrica’s Tritium Removal Facility will include several high technology areas: liquid phase isotopic separation, cryogenic distillation, and high vacuum operation.

The project completion duration is estimated at 50 months, and the produced tritium will be stored in secure and safe specialized containers ready for future use.

“We are actively working on strengthening our international partnerships, capitalizing on our 26 years of safe operation expertise and Romanian nuclear industry expertise for more than 50 years. We aim by 2031 to deliver not only 66% of Romania’s clean energy, but also innovative and efficient projects which support the development of the local nuclear industry with multiple socio-economic benefits. This is a great time to harvest our Romanian expertise for a safe energy future and share our knowledge to like-minded companies and countries,” Cosmin Ghita added.


SNN-KHNP MoU for cooperation in the field of nuclear fuel

On June 28th, SNN and KHNP signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for cooperation in the field of nuclear fuel as part of both parties’ strategy to further develop fuel processing and ensure the resilience of fuel production capabilities, for the long-term operation of current nuclear power plants and new energy production capacities, derived from their investment projects.

Starting December 2022, Nuclearelectrica owns the entire processing flow of the technical uranium concentrate to obtain the sinterable UO2 powder. Nuclearelectrica’s branch from Feldioara (Feldioara Uranium Concentrate Processing Factory) is currently operating at the nominal parameters. Nuclearelectrica has in plan projects for refurbishment and modernization of the production line, with the objective to expand its activity in the field of nuclear fuel management and services.

The Memorandum of Understanding records the intention of the parties to collaborate for studying, planning and development of activities for technical uranium concentrates processing, with the purpose of potentially qualifying SNN as a potential supplier of sinterable UO2 powder by KHNP, and the exploration of possibilities for collaboration in the area of nuclear fuel bundle fabrication.

“In December 2022, Nuclearelectrica completed the acquisition of certain assets in the technical uranium concentrate processing flow from CNU Feldioara Branch. The strategic decision to acquire part of the Feldioara branch was aimed at preserving and developing the integrated Romanian nuclear fuel cycle and ensure the resilience of the production capacities of Nuclearelectrica. In the context of expanding the production of Cernavoda NPP with two more units at the level of 2030/2031 it was crucial for us to ensure the security of production of fuel bundles and the optimal operation of FCN Pitesti and Cernavoda NPP. By cooperating with highly experienced partners such as KHNP, we want to further develop our fuel management and production capabilities and be able to export our services. The implementation of this MoU gives us long-term strength and security and, I thank KHNP for taking our already consolidated partnership to a next level of excellence,” Cosmin Ghita, Chief Executive Officer, Nuclearelectrica, said.

KHNP is a major player in the world of the CANDU nuclear fuel cycle, the owner and operator of the CANDU reactors in the Republic of Korea. KHNP has technological knowledge and experience in the production of advanced Candu 6 (37M) fuel bundles and is interested in diversifying its sources of uranium dioxide powder with natural isotopic composition for its needs.

“With Nuclearelectrica owning the entire processing flow of the technical uranium concentrate for obtaining the sinterable UO2 powder and Feldioara subsidiary (FPCU) being operational and functioning at nominal parameters, we intend to explore new possibilities of expanding the company’s activity in the nuclear fuel field. We aim at becoming a fully integrated, fully resilient, fully innovative nuclear producer and a reference point in region,” Cosmin Ghita noted.

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