Tritium Facility

CNL’s Tritium Facility is located at its Chalk River Laboratories. The Tritium Facility was originally built to support the tritium technology needs for CANDU® reactors and to support the Canadian fusion program.

Since its inception it has been involved in several tritium research and development activities, including:

  1. Development of Liquid Phase Catalytic Exchange (LPCE) and Combined Electrolysis and Catalytic Exchange (CECE) processes for heavy water production and tritium removal
  2. Development of tritium-breeder materials and testing for fusion reactor application
  3. Design and testing of fusion-fuel cleanup systems for fusion reactor application
  4. Investigation of tritium retention characteristics of construction materials
  5. Tritium storage getters

The Tritium Facility is capable of handling significant amounts of tritium, up to 37 PBq (1 MCi), in research and development activities. The facility supports the tritium technology needs for current and future CANDU reactors and utilities.

Some of the capabilities of the Tritium Facility include:

  • Development of tritium removal technologies for environmental applications
  • Development of tritium technologies for fusion and Generation IV reactor applications
  • Supply of tritium-calibration-gas standards to CANDU stations and other applications
  • Dispensing of tritium for commercial and R&D activities

Current research work carried out in the Tritium Facility involves:

  • Development of CECE technology for heavy water detritiation and upgrading and light detritiation
  • Development and testing of tritium-compatible, proton-exchange-membrane (PEM) materials for use in PEM-based electrolytic cells for tritium applications
  • Investigation of tritium-permeation characteristics of structural materials used in fusion and Generation IV reactors, and tritium-permeation barriers
  • Continuing support for Canadian and international tritium removal facilities such as Darlington Tritium Removal Facility, Wolsong Tritium Removal Facility in Korea and International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER)

The lab contains inert-atmosphere glove boxes for handling high-specific activity tritium, liquid scintillation counters for tritium analysis in liquids, and gas chromatographs for the analysis of elemental tritium in gases. The staff in the Tritium Facility are specialized in safe handling of high-specific activity tritium, tritium analysis and measurement methods, as well as tritium handling systems design and operation.