Treatment of Radioactive Liquid Effluents By Reverse Osmosis Membranes: From Lab-Scale to Pilot-Scale

The recent use of the reverse osmosis (RO) process at the damaged Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear power plant generated a growing interest in the application of this process for decontamination purposes. This study focused on the development of a robust RO process for decontamination of two kinds of liquid effluents: a contaminated groundwater after a nuclear disaster and a contaminated seawater during a nuclear accident. The SW30 HR membrane was selected among other in this study due to higher retentions (96% for Cs and 98% for Sr) in a true groundwater. Significant fouling and scaling phenomenon, attributed to calcium and strontium precipitation, were evidenced in this work: this underscored the importance of the lab scale experiment in the process. Validation of the separation performances on trace radionuclides concentration was performed with similar retention around 96% between surrogates Cs (inactive) and 137Cs (radioactive). The scale up to a 2.6 m2 spiral wound membrane led to equivalent retentions (around 96% for Cs and 99% for Sr) but lower flux values: this underlined that the hydrodynamic parameters (flowrate/cross-flow velocity) should be optimized. This methodology was also applied on the reconstituted seawater effluent: retentions were slightly lower than for the groundwater and the same hydrodynamic effects were observed on the pilot scale. Then, ageing of the membrane through irradiation experiments were performed. Results showed that the membrane active layer composition influenced the membrane resistance towards γ irradiation: the SW30 HR membrane performances (retention and permeability) were better than the Osmonics SE at 1 MGy. Finally, to supplement the scale up approach, the irradiation of a spiral wound membrane revealed a limited effect on the permeability and retention. This indicated that irradiation conditions need to be controlled for a further development of the process.

Philippe Moulin, Nicolas Combernoux, Luc Schrive, V. Labed, Y. Wyart, et al.. Treatment of Radioactive Liquid Effluents By Reverse Osmosis Membranes: From Lab-Scale to Pilot-Scale. Water Research, 2017, 123, pp.311-320. ⟨hal-01889583⟩

Journal: Water Research

Date de publication: 01-01-2017

  • Philippe Moulin
  • Nicolas Combernoux
  • Luc Schrive
  • V. Labed
  • Y. Wyart
  • E. Carretier

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