In facilities containing tritium, all process equipment is contained in inerted gloveboxes operating at slightly negative pressure relative to the process rooms. The gloveboxes have recirculation systems which include a stripper system. The glovebox stripper systems capture tritium from the glovebox atmosphere to minimize facility emissions with the possibility of recovering the tritium.

Hydrogen isotopes released into the gloveboxes are converted to oxide form and removed from the glovebox atmosphere by the glovebox stripper systems – the intended function of these systems. Protiated water (and oxygen) enters the glovebox system in various ways. All water in the gloveboxes is ultimately removed by the stripper system molecular sieve beds which are then processed or disposed of as waste. The water and oxygen enter the glovebox in locations both internal and external to the gloveboxes. The majority of oxygen and water originates external to the gloveboxes in current facility operations.

This study evaluated approaches for water source reduction i.e. reducing the amount of water entering the gloveboxes. The second approach explored options to segregate or prevent the mixing of protiated water in the glovebox with the tritiated water formed as part of the tritium oxidation and capture process used to reduce facility emissions.