Enriched with ultrapure water

27 Nov 2008
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Urenco's Capenhurst site supplies the nuclear industry with uranium enrichment services and advanced enrichment technologies and expertise. When their new laboratory facilities were built they installed ELGA LabWater water purification equipment to meet the needs of a busy analytical facility serving Capenhurst’s continuous centrifuge enrichment plant.

“Each of the three new laboratories has a stand-alone water purifier to provide ultrapure water for a range of techniques including ICP-MS, ICP-OES and α and γ spectrometry”, says Operations Manager Katharine Hales. “As well as carrying out product related work, we also monitor environmental discharges for toxic metals. Accuracy is critical, so we use 18.2MΩ.cm resistivity ultrapure water for everything from making up standards to rinsing the glassware.”

This ultrapure water is produced by a two stage process. First, mains water is treated in a PURELAB Option S, which uses a combination of reverse osmosis and ion exchange to produce purified water which is better than distilled water. This water is then polished by a PURELAB Ultra Ionic which uses a combination of ion exchange, UV photo-oxidation and microfiltration, to ultrapure water standards: 18.2MW.cm resistivity. When there is no demand for treated water the PURELAB Ultra recirculates the product to ensure that the quality is maintained, and it has real time quality monitoring to confirm it. The dispense head is at the top of the unit to allow access for tall vessels, and is fitted with a 0.2µm filter as a final guard on water quality.

An important feature of the Ultra Ionic is its dispensing system which automatically delivers a pre-set volume of ultrapure water rapidly, accurately and reproducibly straight into the flask. Rapid dispensing means that there are fewer queues, so common in busy laboratories. It also minimises the possibility of contaminating the water by collecting it in a beaker, measuring the required volume in a measuring cylinder and then pouring it into the flask; every transfer entrains airborne bacteria and contaminants.

Convenience like this is a design feature of the PURELAB Ultra range with front entry service doors providing easy access for changing cartridges. And there is an easy to read display which provides a warning when the fully traceable cartridges need to be changed.

Another convenience is the ability to mount the units on the wall or bench. “Two of our units are wall mounted,” says Katharine, “whilst the other is on a bench-top. We had ELGA LabWater equipment in our old laboratories, so we knew it well, and it seemed the natural choice for our new facility.”

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