Posted by: Heli Antila
In our journey towards a Solar Economy of the future, we are always looking for new solutions, both through new technologies and by developing our existing operations to make them more sustainable and more efficient. Since 1991, for example, we have been using a unique solution to clean radioactive water. The solution is one of our own innovations and we call it NURES. There is much to be said about the product, but in short what NURES does is reduces the amount of radioactive waste that needs to be stored down to a fraction.
To elaborate on the technology, NURES is based on highly selective ion exchange materials, small granules that can turn large volumes of radioactive liquid into a small fraction of radioactive solid waste. This enables us to minimise the environmental and waste management problems normally associated with nuclear power.
Many industries and nuclear power stations that handle radioactive liquid still put it into concrete. This results in e.g. one cubic meter of radioactive water being turned into 2 or 3 cubic meters of radioactive concrete, which ultimately needs to be disposed of somewhere.
With NURES, the same amount of radioactive water is turned into very small amount of solid waste and the rest is purified water. We focus on removing the most troublesome nuclides, such as caesium, strontium and cobalt. In addition to the remarkable reduction of solid radioactive waste, we have also managed to bring a tremendous cost savings in waste management: it’s a win-win situation.
We have been using NURES on a large scale at our nuclear power plant in Loviisa, Finland, for many years. Happily, to date, we also have some 50 to 60 customers worldwide, mostly nuclear power plants, who have started using the NURES® product.
Since 2012, NURES has been used as the main method for decontaminating the water from the damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant. The goal to clean 500 m3 of water per day over a two-year period to non-detectable levels has proven to be successful – and that’s something to be very proud of.
We hope the product will have potential use in other applications and industries in the future. Then its contribution to the environment could be even bigger than it is today.
Fortum’s Chief Technology Officer