Improved Resin Material Boosts Capture of Cobalt at Nuclear Plants

The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) has teamed with Purolite Corp. to begin the commercial manufacture of a new resin for removing radioactive elements from the internal water streams of nuclear power plants.

The resin, called CoSeq, increases the amount and efficiency of cobalt (Co) removal compared to conventional resins. In-plant demonstrations have shown that radioactive Co removal using CoSeq is about four times higher than with the ion exchange resins currently used in the industry.

Daily wear of plant components, such as valves and piping, can release Co and nickel (Ni) into a plant’s internal, closed-loop water systems. When exposed to radiation in the reactor, Co and Ni elements are converted into radioactive Co-60 and Co-58, which are the major contributors to occupational radiation exposure during nuclear plant outages.

“Unlike conventional resins, which only loosely hold onto cobalt species, the CoSeq resin captures and locks the cobalt through physical and electric interactions,” said Christine King, director of nuclear fuels and chemistry at EPRI. “Through a series of laboratory and field studies, we have successfully demonstrated the improved performance of the resin and shown that it will not have any negative impacts.”

The announcement culminates a four-year effort to develop and commercialize this resin technology. Initially, the resin will be available for boiling water reactors. Plants will not need any new equipment to use the CoSeq resin because it can be incorporated into existing water treatment systems. Future development may expand its applicability to pressurized water reactors.

“We anticipate having commercial quantities of the resin available for nuclear plant use in the next few months,” said Jacob Brodie, vice president of Purolite. ■

—Edited by Aaron Larson, a POWER associate editor (@AaronL_Power, @POWERmagazine).