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156-“Arak Heavy Water Complex”

Iran is the ninth country in the world that can produce heavy water. The first attempt to supply heavy water in Iran was carried out in vitro using electrolysis, however; the efforts failed in this regard. After completing the semi-industrial projects of increasing the uranium concentration and its conversion during 1370 to 1377, the IAEA proposed to implement a heavy water industrial project and after a while with the announcement of the Deputy Directors the project began. But regarding the restrictions on foreign scientific and technical information and the lack of professional staff, the project was postponed until 1377. In addition to earning the technical knowledge, the basic initial designs, detailed designs, studies and operations regarding the location were done during this time and Arak site was selected.
The construction of the complex began in 2009 and all stages of its design and implementation were carried out by Iranian experts. It came into operation in 1385.
The nuclear plant products include heavy water and light water, which is heavy water by-product.
Heavy water is the same as ordinary water except that the two hydrogen atoms (H-1) of the water molecule are replaced by two deuterium atoms (H-2). As such, heavy water is sometimes symbolized D2O instead of H2O. Because it has two extra neutrons, heavy water is approximately 10% heavier than ordinary water. Heavy water has a molecular weight of about 20 (the sum of twice the atomic weight of deuterium, which is 2, plus the atomic weight of oxygen, which is 16), whereas ordinary water has a molecular weight of about 18 (twice the atomic weight of ordinary hydrogen, which is 1, plus oxygen, which is 16). Heavy water is the most widely used stable isotope in the world. It is now widely used and increasing day by day.
Heavy water is used for cancer treatment. Arak heavy water is used in a variety of fields including biology, medicine and physics. It is also used as a cooling agent for nuclear power plants and radiopharmaceutical production.
Iran ranks as the world’s ninth largest producer of heavy water and even exceeded the initial capacity of 16 tonnes. Today it has reached 20 tonnes of heavy water production with 99.88% of enrichment per year.
In the past, heavy water was used only as a decelerator or cooler for the reactor but now it has medical, environmental, pharmaceutical, health and labeling uses which greatly increased its consumption. Another thing is that heavy water is not radioactive or medicinal radio-compound and has no radiation properties and is actually an isotope. Heavy water exists in nature, and in fact one out of every 7,000 hydrogen atoms is deuterium or one out of every 7,000 ordinary water molecules is a heavy water molecule. What is done in the heavy water complex is the extraction of this molecule. Of every 1 million water molecules, there are 145 deuterium molecules, which we call PPM, that is, natural water contains 145 PPM of deuterium, but whether all this heavy water can be extracted depends on the extraction methods.
It should be noted that Iran is on the black list of US heavy water exports.


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