National Research And Development Institute For Cryogenic And Isotopic Technologies

PESTD – Pilot Plant For Tritium And Deuterium Separation – Brief History

  • Project started in 1992 – semi-industrial plant for the separation of hydrogen isotopes;
  • Construction completed in 1997 to serve as a chemical plant with the purpose of providing technical support to complete the technology for heavy water detritiation;
  • Starting from 2000, the plant becomes a nuclear unit after reaching the parameters as a chemical plant;
  • Starting with 2002, the plant becomes CNCAN-approved nuclear power plant in different phases, according to the standards;
  • Beginning with 1999 the plant has been participating in European fusion programs;
  • The first 200 liters of tritiated water were brought to the Institute in 2009.

The Purpose of PESTD is:

  1. to confirm the technological data and functional characteristics of the specific equipment in order to design the heavy water detritiation plant used in the CANDU type reactors;
  2. to use the facilities of this plant for studies and experiments specific to detritiation plants related to fusion reactors, JET and ITER;
  3. to train staff to operate TRF, particularly CTRF.

The main characteristics of PESTD:

Flow (kg/h) 5
Detritiation Factor 3
Front-end Process LPCE (1 column, Ø100)
Back-end Process CD (hydrogen, 1000W)
Storage capacity 6 g tritium
Inventory of tritiated heavy water (LPCE) 200 Kg (max 30Ci/Kg)

Field emission scanning electron microscope variable pressure

Field Emission Scanning Electron Microscope Variable Pressure – FESEM VP, CARL ZEISS type, with a resolution of 0.8 nm at 30 kV and 2.5 nm at 30 kV in VP mode.

The microscope is equipped with EDS systems (energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy) and WDS (wavelength dispersive X-ray spectroscopy) which allow a quantitative and qualitatively high precision analysis of all chemical elements up to B (Z=5).

PlasmaLab System 400 (OXFORD Instruments) for thin films deposition (PVD)

Thin film deposition system ranging in thickness from approx. 20 nm to a few microns on a variety of 100 mm diameter substrates. The configuration based on 2 direct current and 2 radiofrequency magnetrons (for oxide deposition) allow deposition of nitrides and silicide in O2, N2 and H2 atmosphere. Also, multi-layer films with uniformity of up to +/- 5% can be made depending on substrate diameter and operating mode: static (high deposition rate) or rotating (lower layer growth rate but better uniformity).

Multiple source materials can be used concurrently thanks to the cross-contamination prevention system. Also the machine can be operated up to temperatures of 300 oC (rotating mass – substrate support) thus increasing the uniformity of the film.

The system is equipped with a controlled atmosphere charging/extraction chamber so that the reaction chamber is constantly under controlled atmosphere.

Physical Property Measurement System – PPMS

The Physical Property Measurement System – PPMS functions in an operating mode: DC / AC (0.005 – 5000 μA) – (0 – 95 mV) and is used to determine the electronics properties of superconducting materials (wires, thin /ultra-thin films). The PPMS is equipped with a cryogenic cooling system (Ever-Cool II) in co-operation with a controlled microprocessor (model 6000) that allows switching between different measurement configurations, such as:

  • ~10-5Ω – 10+7 Ω Resistivity option allows the measurement of 3 samples simultaneously;
  • ACT Option allows the measurement of 2 samples simultaneously;
  • Torque Magnetometer Option.

Examples of PPMS measurements

  • temperature-dependent electrical resistance measurements (2K-300K) and input currents up to 4A in various magnetic fields (up to ± 9T);
  • magnetic field dependent electrical resistance measurements (0T-9T) in various temperature ranges (2K-300K);
  • magnetoresistance and Hall effect measurements, I-V characteristics, critical current densities.

Ortec High Performance Low Background Lead Shields

Gamma spectrometry is a nuclear technique used to determine gamma-ray emitting radionuclides present in different types of samples.

Measurement by gamma spectrometry is performed using a spectrometric chain consisting of a coaxial detector, HPGe with a relative efficiency of 65%, a low background lead shield, and a DSPEC gamma-ray spectrometry analyser of Ortec fabrication. The energy field in which the analysis is performed ranges from 0 keV to 2000 keV.

GAMMAVISION-32 software package for complete, qualitative and quantitative analysis

PIC MPC 9300 Protean Radiometer

It allows the measurement of gross alpha and beta radioactive concentrations in different environments and for different materials through a gross beta and alpha low background measurement system.

The MPC 9300 is a proportional counter radiometer with P10 gas flow, with ultra-thin entrance window and a detector placed in an incorporated lead shield. Nominal flow rate adjustment is 60 cc/min.


  • Measurement of gross alpha and beta radioactivity concentrations from a wide range of various samples: solids, liquids, aerosol filters.

       Monitor portabil de masurare a radonului Pylon AB-5

Masuratori al concentratiei de radon se efectueaza cu ajutorul monitorului de radon Pylon AB-5. Acesta prezinta o gama de ansambluri modulare care pot fi folosite la masurarea radonului in diferite medii: aer, apa si  gazul din sol.


Sistem complex de preparare a probelor de mediu in vederea aducerii acestora in diferite matrici, pentru determinarea radioactivitatii

  • Matrice apa (apa de suprafata apa subterana, apa de ploaie, apa potabila, apa reziduala industriala si apa uzata/reziduala menajera, etc)

Pre-evaporarea probelor matrice apa se realizeaza folosind baia de nisip HT82, urmata fiind de evaporare la sistemul de uscare cu becuri infrarosu. In functie de metoda de masurarea aleasa, probele de apa sunt calcinate folosind cuptorul de calcinare Nobertherm.

  • Matrice sol (sol din grădini, ferme, zone urbane, zone industriale, precum și pentru soluri neafectate de activități umane; sediment din rauri si cursuri de apa interioara, lacuri si ape statatoare; namoluri din instalatii de epurare a apelor uzate, instalatii de tratare a apei, procese industriale)

Probele sunt uscate in cuptorul de uscare Thermo, macinate cu ajutorul morii cu bile Frisch  apoi cernute folosind Sistemul de sitare Retsch

  • Matrice cenusa (diverse specii de plante din flora terestra (iarba), inclusiv specii de ciuperci, muschi, licheni, sub forma intreaga sau e parti ale acestor plante; specii de animale din fauna acvatica (peste, moluste, scoici); flora acvatica (alge, stuf, etc); produse alimentare de origine animala (carne, oua, lapte) si non-animala (legume, fructe, cereale, etc).

Etapele de preparare a probelor in vederea aducerii lor in matrice cenusa constau in: uscare in etuva Venticell, calcinare in cuptorul de calcinare Nabertherm, cernere folosind sistemul de sitare Retsch.


  • Masurarea activitatii alfa globale si beta globale in probe de mediu
  • Identificarea si determinarea cantitativa a radionuclizilor emitatori de radiatii gama prin spectrometrie de inalta rezolutie in probe de mediu
  • Determinarea concentratiei de radon.

Tri-Carb 2800TR Liquid Scintillation Analyzer

This analyser, produced by Perkin Elmer, equipped with automatic calibration and Time Resolved Liquid Scintillation Counting (TR-LSCTM) is used to determine the specific activity of tritium from different types of water samples (wastewater from technological processes, urine of the professionally exposed personnel and the water supply of the Pilot Plant for Tritium and Deuterium Separation).

1220 QUANTULUS Ultra Low Level Liquid Scintillation Spectrometers

One of the Ultra Low Level Liquid Scintillation Spectrometers 1220 QUANTULUS in our laboratory is produced by Wallac Oy, Finland, and the other one by PerkinElmer, USA. The equipment is dedicated to environmental measurements, with unmatched performance in low-level tritium and 14C measurements. These are used to determine the specific activity of tritium (as well as water) or 14C (as well as CO2) from water, soil, sediment, vegetation and food samples after mixing with specific scintillation cocktails.

Complex system for preparing environmental samples using liquid scintillation method to determine the activity of tritium concentration

It is used for the preparation of water, air, soil, sediment, vegetation and food samples. The processes used for sample preparation are the following:

  • simple distillation, with or without chemical treatment, in water samples;
  • azeotropic distillation with toluene in soil, sediment, vegetation and food samples, to determine the free water tritium (TFWT- tissue free water tritium);
  • combustion (using the Parr 1121 bomb) followed by lyophilization with chemical treatment, vegetation and food samples for organically bound tritium (OBT).

Complex system for preparing environmental samples using direct absorption and liquid scintillation method to measure the activity of 14C concentration

It is used for the preparation of water, air, soil, sediment, vegetation and food samples. The processes used for sample preparation are the following:

  • precipitation of carbonates and bicarbonates from water samples, followed by acidification, purification and absorption of CO2 resulting in scintillation cocktail;
  • combustion of vegetation and food samples with Parr bomb 1108, followed by purification and absorption of CO2 in scintillation cocktail;
  • wet oxidation of soil and sediment samples, followed by purification and retention of CO2 in scintillation cocktail

Linde HRLS 11 Helium refrigeration-liquefaction plant is a special model ordered by our institute, so as to provide the capacity of helium liquefaction used in superconductivity and superfluidity applications, and at the same time to generate a refrigerated gas flow at temperatures of 16 K-22 K, flux that can be used in specific cryogenic distillation systems of hydrogen isotopes. The plant has a cryo-adsorption purification system and a system for recovering and bottling of evaporated helium from storage systems (dewars, cryostats, etc.)

Process data:

  • Discharge pressure 13 (bar)
  • Flow 30 (g/s)
  • Pressure LN22-3 (bar)
  • Flow LN20,6 (l – LN2/ l- He)


  • Refrigeration mode 200 W at 20 K
  • Liquefaction mode 90 l/h at 1,25 bar

A010 (TC300) Universal testing machine – Capacity 300 kN (67443 lbf) -developed for the measurement of mechanical strength of the materials under load

The tensile strength of materials, compression up to 300kN and thin wires up to 1 kN can be determined with the help of TC 300 equipment type. For the investigation of the properties of materials at cryogenic temperatures, this equipment can be grafted with application-specific cryostats which were developed within the Low Temperature Laboratory.

Linde L5 Helium liquefier

Linde L5 Helium liquefier. This plant was among the first commercial models made by Linde. It was recovered by the Low Temperature Laboratory as an incomplete plant, lacking important parts, including the automatic program of the liquefaction process. The entire plant was re-equipped and put into operation without a consistent scientific or material contribution from the manufacturer, thus the liquefaction process was accomplished.

Experimental stand for cryo-adsorption and cryo-condensation

The experimental cryo-adsorption stand has an increased flexibility so that it can accurately determine the best adsorbent with high capacity for retaining impurities in the process gas, with low regeneration time, as well as with functional and physicochemical stability, also aiming at diminishing the occurrence of reaction, toxic or explosive by-products.

The experimental cryo-adsorption stand consists of the following components: cold-box for the cryo-adsorption/cryo-condensation system; pressure sensor, type MKS Baratron; pressure transducer; blending vessel; calibrated vessel for samples; micrometric valve; mass flow controller; ti MB-602 process pump; preliminary vacuum pump vacuum system combined with a turbomolecular pump, liquid nitrogen storage dewar.

Experimental stand to determine 20K -300K resilience (it includes F040 S universal testing machine)

The experimental stand is an adaptable system to test specimens, a system that accommodates cryogenic fluid in the testing area without the risk of explosion, as well as an accurate measurement of the breaking temperature. The universal testing machine is provided with a device that communicates on the serial port with the computer and which automatically records the value of the breaking energy of the specimen.

Cryogenerator for hydrogen liquefaction – PPH type

The liquid hydrogen liquefier, Phillips 1975 type, operates in compliance with a Stirling cycle and can supply a power of 30-35 W at 20 K. This equipment is mainly used as a cold generator for the condenser of hydrogen isotope distillation columns, as well as a cooling source at the stand for determination of resilience at 20K.

Cryogenerator for nitrogen, argon, oxygen liquefaction PPG type (oxygen isotope distillation stand)

The liquid Nitrogen liquefier, Phillips 1977 type, operates in compliance with a Stirling cycle and can supply a power of 50 W at 77 K. This equipment is mainly used as a cooling source for the condenser of oxygen isotope distillation columns.

Heat Treat Furnace

Functional parameters of the furnace:

  • Chamber type: with electrical sensors;
  • Useful surface: 400 x 300 x 200 mm;
  • Maximum temperature range: up to 12000C;
  • Water-oil quenching tank;
  • Temperature control: by digital programmer, RS-232 serial interface.

The electrical chamber furnace is designed to heat parts from different materials up to a maximum of 12000C to perform heat treatment operations such as normalization, annealing, heating for quenching, etc.

  • Design software – Catia, ANSYS, AUTOCAD;
  • Data acquisition and process control system, LAB-VIEW 5.0.

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