Romanian nuclear utility Societatea Nationala Nuclearelectrica (SNN), and Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power (KHNP) have signed an Engineering, Procurement & Construction (EPC) contract for construction of the Cernavoda Tritium Removal Facility (CTRF).

CTRF will remove the tritium from Cernavoda NPP installations. The plant comprises two Candu 6 pressurised heavy water reactors (PHWRs) supplied by Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd commissioned in 1996 and 2007. Construction of two further Candu 6 reactors is planned. Tin PHWRs, tritium accumulates in the heavy water used as moderator and coolant. Tritium removal technology is designed to capture and process tritium so that it can be properly stored and recycled, thereby reducing environmental impact, personnel exposure levels and improving workplace safety. SNN believes tritium removed from the reactors and other installations at Cernavoda may be in demand in the future as fuel for fusion reactors.

Using technology developed by the Romanian National Research & Development Institute for Cryogenic & Isotopic Technologies (ICSI Ramnicu Valcea), CTRF will be the world’s third and Europe’s first tritium removal facility. Currently only two such facilities are in operation, in SouthKorea and Canada. SNN believes it and will open the possibility for Romania to become a European hub for tritium production.

The conceptual design of CTRF, completed by ICSI, uses the most advanced technology and meets current safety requirements for a tritium industrial facility as specified by Romanian Nuclear Regulator. CNCAN. SNN CEO Cosmin Ghita said “KHNP, a leading expert in the field is the right partner to support us in delivering a safe and reliable project.” He added: “Our purpose, through our investment projects, technological advancement and international cooperation, is give Romania a leading role in the nuclear industry and support its energy security.”

KHNP was selected as an EPC contractor following a public procurement procedure. KHNP is experienced in developing such projects and is operating a similar facility at the Wolsong NPP in South Korea. The project completion duration is estimated at 50 months, and the tritium produced will be stored in secure and safe specialised containers ready for future use.

South Korea’s Ministry of Trade, Industry and & Energy said the project was project worth €195m ($212m). The order amounted to about 38% of South Korea's total exports to Romania in 2022.

The project period is from July to August 2027, and KHNP will be responsible for design, equipment supply, construction and commissioning.

Image: Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power CEO ,Whang Joo-ho, and Nuclearelectrica CEO, Cosmin Ghita, at the signing ceremony (courtesy of Yonhap)