The Environmental Radioactivity Laboratory of the University of Extremadura (LARUEX) leads the consortium that develops the TRITIUM project funded by the SUDOE program.
This is a three-year project (from July 2016 to June 2019) under the SUDOE program and, more specifically, the subprogramme "Combating climate change". One of the objectives of this subprogramme is to improve the coordination and effectiveness of risk prevention instruments and disasters related to human activities, such as technological accidents, including awareness-raising and civil protection, in which TRITIUM is perfectly involved. The total amount of the approved project is slightly more than 2.04 million euros, 75% of which are provided by ERDF funds, while the rest must be contributed by the partners.
The main objective of the project is to construct a monitor that is capable of measuring in situ and near real time levels of tritium in the water in a way that allows to have a permanent knowledge of the existing levels in the waters under surveillance. Tritium is the only radioactive isotope of hydrogen, and as such forms part of water indistinguishably from the characteristics of the water formed with the other major tritium isotopes in nature. The Council Directive 2013/51 / Euratom of 22 October 2013 laying down requirements for the health protection of the general public with regard to radioactive substances in waters intended for human consumption provides that the maximum level Of tritium in water for human consumption can not exceed 100 Becquereles per liter. These levels are much higher than those caused by the natural or cosmogenic component of tritium, however they are easily surmountable in the cooling waters of many nuclear plants in normal operation. Although there are currently low-level liquid scintillation measuring systems in environmental radioactivity laboratories, taking a sample of water and determining its radioactive content in tritium can easily take 4 to 5 days . However, there are currently no devices that can measure in real time almost as low levels as those required by the Directive. The idea of the TRITIUM project is therefore to be able to develop such a monitor and implement it in those river channels where there are nuclear facilities that can evacuate significant tritium activities and thus ensure that the waters of these rivers can be used with For human consumption. Although the application of the results of this project has an undoubted interest in the SUDOE area, since there are nuclear fission reactors cooled with water from rivers that are later used by the population, its utility goes beyond this geographical area and Extends to practically the whole planet, given the current diffusion of this technology for the production of electrical energy. In the future, when commercial fusion nuclear reactors are commercially available, such monitors will be more useful if practically the main radioactive contaminant they will produce will be tritium.
The global coordinator of the consortium that develops this project is Antonio Salvador Baeza Espasa, Professor of Applied Physics and Director of the Laboratory of Environmental Radioactivity at the University of Extremadura. José Díaz Medina (Professor of Atomic and Nuclear Physics of the Institute of Corpuscular Physics, CSIC-University of Valencia), João Veloso (Assistant Professor) Of the Department of Physics of the University of Aveiro in Portugal), Fabrice Piquemal (Research Director of the Center for Nuclear Studies of Bourdeaux in France) and José Manuel Gil Lavado (Head of Section of Environmental Radiology of the General Directorate of Environment in Ministry of Environment and Rural, Agricultural Policies and Territory of the Board of Extremadura). In addition to the aforementioned groups and as collaborating partners of the project, they participate in the project: a) Companies, Associated Technologies TECNASA SL, by Spain, nu-RISE, Portugal, a) WssTP by France, b) University of Burdeaux And c) Carmelec.