Observatorio de I+D+i UPM

Memorias de investigación
Radioactive water decontamination in nuclear power plants: From the microorganisms in the water to an industrial scale system
Áreas de investigación
  • Biología molecular,
  • Microbiología,
  • Biotecnología,
  • Tratamiento del agua,
  • Contaminación radiactiva,
  • Centrales térmicas nucleares y de fusión
In nuclear power plants, the spent fuel that has been removed from the reactor is normally stored in spent nuclear fuel pools filled with water to cool the spent fuel and provide protection against its radioactivity. Water in these pools must satisfy purity and clearness conditions to prevent corrosion and allow the fuel elements in the racks to be seen; so, the water is subject to a strict process of cleaning and demineralization. In spite of the radioactive characteristics of the ultrapure water, previous studies carried out in these pools have demonstrated the presence of microorganisms. We have also verified that these microorganisms could form biofilms on the surface of metallic materials immersed in the pools and that these biofilms could retain radionuclides. So, the next step was to assess whether the radioactivity accumulated by the biofilms could be used in an industrial system to decontaminate radioactive water. Two bioreactors were installed in the Cofrentes Nuclear Power Plant (Valencia, Spain) to receive water directly from the spent nuclear fuel pools. Stainless steel and titanium balls were introduced into the bioreactors and were removed periodically for further analysis. Scanning electron microscopy and epifluorescence microscopy were used to study the biofilms developing on the ball surfaces. The microorganisms forming the biofilms were identified by sequencing and the radioactivity accumulated by the biofilms was determined by gamma spectrometry. A radionuclide retention process related to biofilm formation is suggested. lt has been assessed that the scalable process developed can be economically profitable. Acknowledgements: We are grateful to the Spanish Ministry of Science and Technology (CICYT-FEDER-2FD1997-0530-MAT and CTM2004- 05579/TECNO), to lberdrola Generación, S.A. (6276-99) for their financial support and to the staff of the Cofrentes Nuclear Power Plant for their technical assistance.
Entidad relacionada
International Biodeterioration and Biodegradation Society (IBBS) 17th International Biodeterioration & Biodegradation Symposium (IBBS-17)
Nacionalidad Entidad
Lugar del congreso
Manchester (UK), September 6-8, 2017
Esta actividad pertenece a memorias de investigación
  • Autor: Ana Maria Garcia Ruiz (UPM)
  • Autor: Julio Belinchón (Iberdrola, S.A.)
  • Autor: Diego Alejandro Moreno Gomez (UPM)
Grupos de investigación, Departamentos, Centros e Institutos de I+D+i relacionados
  • Creador: Grupo de Investigación: Bioingeniería y Materiales (BIO-MAT)
  • Departamento: Física Aplicada e Ingeniería de Materiales
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