Award for innovative tritium waste removal recycling technology
General Electric (GE) and the University of Bath have received a prestigious environmental award from the London-based Institution of Chemical Engineers for developing an innovative technology to store, treat and recycle tritium waste, a radioactive chemical byproduct of medical research and nuclear power generation.
Tritium is a radioactive isotope of hydrogen that occurs naturally in the environment in very low concentrations but also is created as a byproduct of the nuclear power generation process. The new treatment technology is designed to capture and process tritium waste so that it can be properly stored and recycled, thus reducing environmental impact, personnel exposure levels and enhancing healthcare workplace safety.
At a recent awards ceremony in London, the Institution of Chemical Engineers presented GE and the University of Bath with the ABB Engineering Services Environment Award, which focuses on a technology’s ability to minimize the impact on the environment with respect to resource use, recycling and water reduction.
“We are exceptionally proud that our work has been recognized by receiving this eminent award,” said Ian Bonnett, GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy’s product manager who helped pioneer the technology in the United Kingdom. “This groundbreaking solution will enable waste chemicals to be captured, processed and purified so that tritium can be recycled and reused in the manufacturing processes.”
University of Bath Professor Stan Kolaczkowski received the joint award with Bonnett. Heralded as an “environmental dream” by the institution’s magazine, The Chemical Engineer, the new treatment technology is currently being installed at the GE Healthcare Maynard Centre in Cardiff, U.K., as part of a $60 million tritium recovery and recycling facility.