Hyundai E&C’s nuclear decommissioning site restoration technology has recently obtained green certification from the Ministry of Environment. Green certification is a system under the Framework Act on Carbon Neutrality that certifies green technology that saves energy and resources and uses them efficiently to minimize greenhouse gas emissions and pollutants. The certification is evaluated based on the level of technology, innovation, feasibility of business plan, and contribution to green growth.
The official name of the nuclear decommissioning site restoration technology of Hyundai E&C recognized as a green technology is ‘Radioactive cesium-contaminated soil waste reduction technology using particle size classification and cation exchange cleaning process.’ Hyundai E&C is the first and only company which owns a technology to remove cesium attached to the soil by categorizing soil contaminated with radioactive substances by particle size and cleaning it with potassium chloride (KCl) solution to receive green certification in the field of radioactive-contaminated soil restoration.
Most radioactive materials are adsorbed on fine soil with a small particle size and a wide surface area. The smaller the particle size of the soil, the higher the level of radioactive concentration. Therefore, the key is to effectively remove adsorbed pollutants by precisely selecting and cleaning soil particles. It is very important to reduce the amount of radioactive waste generated in the process of decommissioning nuclear power plants as radioactive wastes incur high disposal costs, but also greenhouse gas emissions from the construction of disposal facilities are significant. Therefore it is crucial to lower emissions.
In particular, Hyundai E&C used potassium chloride as a wash water to remove ‘cesium’, a radioactive nuclide that is likely to exist on the site of decommissioning a nuclear power plant. The ion exchange reaction between potassium and cesium is used to make cesium strongly binding to the clay soil to fall out, and then only cesium present in the wash water is selectively adsorbed and removed. The wash water from which cesium removed can be reused 100% and does not generate secondary wastes. To evaluate the performance of the technology, Hyundai E&C conducted a pilot test using demonstration facilities with Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power, which is in charge of the nuclear decommissioning project. Hyundai E&C’s technology successfully removed 90% of cesium from radioactively contaminated soil over 900kg per hour by verifying particle size separation accuracy, cesium and heavy metal removal rate, selective adsorbent absorption performance, and process water removal rate, proving that it could be commercially available immediately during nuclear decommissioning.
Hyundai E&C also has various technologies for commercialization for nuclear decommissioning, including ▲ groundwater monitoring and pollution evaluation technology of decommissioned nuclear power plant ▲ radioactive-contaminated soil/ground water restoration technology ▲ site deregulation/safety evaluation technology and ▲site reuse evaluation technology. As Korea’s leading builder continues to make various efforts to realize carbon neutrality and develop the nuclear ecosystem, the latest green certification proved the excellence of the company’s technology in effectively removing cesium compared to other technologies, and reduction in greenhouse remissions With the official recognition of its excellent green technology, Hyundai E&C secured competitive advantage in the field of nuclear decommissioning site restoration.
A Hyundai E&C official said, "This green certification has laid the foundation for leading the future nuclear decommissioning site restoration project. Continuous research and development will not only strengthen the global nuclear decommissioning market, but also establish an industry-wide solid response system through diversification of nuclear power business and securing core source technologies."
Meanwhile, Hyundai E&C is making all-out efforts to secure competitiveness in all areas of the nuclear power plant industry, including small module reactors(SMR) and nuclear hydrogen production, in addition to life-cycles overseeing design, construction decommissioning of new nuclear power plants.
Hyundai E&C also holds a nuclear power design and installation(nuclear equipment/structure/electricity/HVAC equipment) certification of Korea Electric Power Industry Code(KEPIC), which is a qualification system for bidding and performing nuclear power projects at home and abroad. Hyundai E&C’s is further strengthening its status as a game changer in the global nuclear sector, by establishing strategic cooperation with global nuclear energy companies and domestic nuclear institutions.