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Water Detritiation: Better SCKCEN Catalysts for Liquid Phase Catalytic Exchange

Aimé Bruggeman, Johan Braet, Sven Vanderbiesen

Fusion Science and Technology

Volume 48 / Number 1 / July 2005 / Pages 102-107


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A technically & economically sound technology for water detritiation is mandatory for the future of fusion. This technology is expected to be based on water electrolysis and Liquid Phase Catalytic Exchange (LPCE). LPCE requires an efficient hydrophobic catalyst. SCKCEN invented and developed such a catalyst in the past, which is prepared by depositing platinum on an activated charcoal carrier and mixing it with polytetrafluorethylene as a hydrophobic material. In combination with an appropriate wettable packing, different batches of this catalyst performed very well during years of extensive testing, allowing us to develop the ELEX process for water detritiation at inland reprocessing plants. Recently we succeeded in reproducing this catalyst and preparing a slightly different but clearly ameliorated type. By extrapolation these new results would allow us to obtain, at 40°C and under typical but conservative operating conditions, a decontamination factor of 10000 with a column of less than 3 meters long. Such performances would make this catalyst an excellent candidate for application at JET or ITER. To confirm the performances of our improved catalyst for a longer period of time and in a longer column, we are now starting experiments in a newly built installation and we are collaborating with ICSI, Romania.

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