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Tritium Recovery from Tritiated Water by Electrolysis

Gilbert Bellanger, Jean Jacques Rameau

Fusion Science and Technology

Volume 36 / Number 3 / November 1999 / Pages 296-308


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In addition to the tritiated water produced by the Commissariat à l'Energie Atomique, large quantities result from the development of controlled fusion reactors for power generation (International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor). To obtain a new industrial method of reducing tritiated water, an electrolytic rather than a chemical process was developed. A prototype electrolyzer is described and the results obtained are given. In this process, the tritium recovery system is based on the principle of a gas diffusion Pd-Ag electrode incorporating a tritium charging cathode, which produces very pure hydrogen isotope gases. This is for converting 3H2O to high-purity 3H2 and its isotopes from tritiated water with >30 TBq/cm3 radioactivity (>50% 3H2O). The prototype module has been tested in a hot laboratory. The overall operating time exceeded 1500 h, and 6 g of gaseous tritium were produced without difficulty.

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