Posted on: 3rd December 2015

#3 High-tech filters for a cleaner environment

Future fusion fuels will include a deuterium-tritium mixture, and it is essential to remove tritium from the fuel cycle waste. For this, EUROfuison’s Italian research unit ENEA has been working on a palladium-silver alloy membrane. A thin membrane of palladium allows hydrogen to permeate through the membrane, but blocks all other elements, thus acting like an efficient hydrogen filter.

This selective filtration of hydrogen allows separating hydrogen isotopes, such as tritium, from the fusion reactor fuel wastes. The membrane has already found applications in other industries. One example is the petrochemical industry, where the membrane is used to filter the waste, and another fascinating example is treating the waste from the olive oil mills to obtain pure hydrogen.

The complexity and the multidisciplinary nature of fusion research produced number of spin-offs that have found applications in industry, other scientific disciplines, and technological advances. The areas that have benefited from fusion research span a variety of fields ranging from medicine and material science to computing and astrophysics.

EUROfusion has identified some of these spin-offs, looked at fusion research aspects that have the potential for short-term benefits, and prepared a non-exhaustive list of fusion spin-offs which demonstrate the short-term benefits of fusion research on the way to fusion electricity.