In our strive towards the Solar Economy of the future we are always looking for new solutions, both within new technologies, but also through the development of our existing operations to make them more sustainable and more efficient. For example; since 1991, we have been using a unique solution when cleaning radioactive water. The solution is one of our own inventions, and we call it NURES. There is much to be said about the product, but in short what we have managed to do is to reduce the amount of radioactive waste that needs to be stored, to a fraction.
To elaborate on the technology, NURES is based on highly selective ion exchange materials, small granules that can clean large volumes of radioactive liquid, turning it into a small fraction of radioactive solid waste. In this way we can minimise both 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 means that one cubic metre of radioactive water is turned into between 2 and 3 cubic meters of radioactive concrete which 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 cleaned water. We focus on removing the most troublesome nuclides such as cesium, strontium and cobalt, and in addition to a remarkable reduction of solid radioactive waste we have also managed tremendous cost savings in waste management, which is a win-win situation.
We have been using NURES on a large scale at our nuclear power plant in Loviisa in Finland for many years and happily, to date, we also have some 50 to 60 customers, mostly nuclear power plants, who have started using the NURES® products worldwide.
Since 2012 NURES has also been used as the main method to decontaminate the water from the damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant. The goal has been to clean 500 m3 of water per day over a two year period to non-detectable levels. This has proven to be successful, which feels very good.
We hope that in the future the product might have the potential to be used for other applications and other industries, and we believe that it then might make an even bigger contribution to the environment than it does today.
Heli Antila CTO, Fortum