Decommissioning a Nuclear Power Plant with Purolite Resins

Every time a nuclear power plant gets decommissioned, all surfaces and components must be decontaminated from radioactive pollution. This is done using water and the resulting radioactive waste water must be processed. Typically, the radioactive nuclides are removed from the contaminated water using ion exchange resins. This minimizes the volume of waste by concentrating the contaminants on the resin, leaving the water clean for reuse.

Since the cost of disposing of radioactive waste is very high, the company’s goal was to minimize the amount of process waste generated in the decontamination procedure by finding an ion exchange resin with the highest radioactive cationic species loading capacity. Due to an existing relationship, they contacted Purolite.

After reviewing the system dynamics and flow rates, Purolite technical sales offered two strong acid cation products to test: One high capacity gel resin and one high capacity macroporous resin. The resins were part of our nuclear grade NRW product line. In addition to the ion exchange resins, Purolite technical sales recommended a specific lower flow rate and a lead/lag configuration to maximize loading.

The customer tested the Purolite resins along with several from the competition and the clear winner was Purolite® NRW1180. Since the selectivity for radioactive nuclides is increased by the crosslinkage of the resin, NRW1180 turned out to be the resin with the highest possible loading.

Once selected, NRW1180 in the hydrogen form was ordered and delivered in IBCs (International Bulk Containers). Using bulk packaging like the 1.0 cubic meter IBC greatly reduced the resin handling and installation time.

After the system was put into service, the performance of NRW1180 was excellent and helped the client meet their goals. The loading capacity was so impressive that the customer is recommending it for all of their nuclear power plant decontamination projects.

If you have an upcoming plant decommission and  would like more information about this application, contact your local Purolite technical sales representative.