DESIGN AND DEVELOPMENT OF A TRITIUM-COMPATIBLE ELECTROLYZER
36th Annual CNS Conference - 2016 June 19-22


Presented at:
36th Annual CNS Conference
2016 June 19-22
Location:
Toronto, Canada
Session Title:
Session W2B: Nuclear Applications 2

Authors:
M. Rabbani (Tyne Engineering)
P. Ozemoyah (Tyne Engineering)
J. Robinson (Tyne Engineering)
H. Li (Canadian Nuclear Laboratories)
H. Boniface (Canadian Nuclear Laboratories)
S. Suppiah (Canadian Nuclear Laboratories)
  

Abstract

Proton exchange membrane (PEM) electrolysis is the process of cracking water into hydrogen and oxygen using a PEM electrolyzer. The PEM electrolyzer consists of a PEM, bipolar plates, insulators and end plates. In this study, a PEM electrolyzer is designed and developed for its application in the nuclear industry for tritium removal using the catalytic exchange electrolysis process. Tyne, in collaboration with CNL, has designed a tritium-compatible PEM electrolyzer with specially designed 20.3 cm active diameter electrodes which can withstand tritium better than ordinary Nafion® and with enhanced safety features. Electrochemical and hydrodynamic models are used in the design stage to determine various design parameters. A prototype with 1 Nm3 /hr design capacity is built and tested with Nafion® N-117. The polarization curve is experimentally determined at ambient temperature and pressure. The results showed that the required single cell potential is 3 V at 1.0 A/cm2 . As a second phase of the electrolyzer development, tritium-compatible membrane, specifically developed for tritium application at CNL, was soaked in tritiated water for 3 months and then detritiated for several months. The detritiated membrane has been then tested in a smaller unit. Compared to the soaked Nafion® membranes the specially designed and developed tritium-compatible membranes perform better and thus are to be used in final electrolyzer assembly.

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