Fortum's Esko Tusa receives Finnish Engineering Award

27 May 2015, 11:49 EEST

Esko Tusa today received the prestigious Finnish Engineering Award for his decades of work at Fortum developing and selling solutions to purify radioactive liquids.

The Award for his decades of The award prize is 30,000 euros. The award is given annually by Academic Engineers and Architects in Finland TEK and Tekniska Föreningen i Finland TFiF.

The award was granted to Esko Tusa for his long-term, visionary work and ability to move development efforts forward within a large company. The result is a unique, exportable cleantech innovation.

Product developed for own needs is a global success

Esko Tusa
Esko Tusa at the Loviisa power plant.

Initially developed for the Loviisa nuclear power plant’s needs, Nures® technology is based on highly selective, inorganic ion exchangers that effectively remove caesium, strontium, cobalt, manganese and other corrosion products. They can be used to treat virtually all radioactive liquids and can purify evaporator concentrates, contaminated groundwater, floor drain liquids, laboratory wastewater, decommissioning liquids, and spent fuel reprocessing liquids.

The products developed by Esko Tusa are almost a thousand times more effective at purifying radioactive liquids than many of the competing products. In addition to high-power purification, the advantages include a smaller waste volume compared to other products. The Nures® solution is internationally recognised and valued within the sector.


Relentless development work

It all started with Loviisa back in 1978 when the design of a solidification plant for radioactive waters at the Loviisa plant got under way. The plan at the time was based on storing water in concrete. Esko Tusa was working in nuclear waste management research and posed a far-reaching question: why not remove the radioactivity from the water and then release the water into the sea, for example, rather than store radioactive water in huge volumes of concrete?

The response to Esko Tusa’s question was that if such a solution were possible, someone would have already figured it out. But he didn’t give up. He resolutely started collecting relevant research data from around the world. As Fortum’s confidence in the persistent expert continued to grow, the company decided to fund the research programme.

The development work, during which the University of Helsinki’s Department of Radiochemistry researched possibilities to develop sufficiently selective ion exchangers, progressed promisingly. A breakthrough made in the mid 1980s at the university showed that NURES® worked in a laboratory environment, so it was determined that it could be used in a production environment. The innovation was the start of the Nures® product family consisting of several products. CsTreat® to remove caesium was taken into use in 1991, SrTreat® for the removal of strontium was introduced in 1993, and CoTreat® to remove cobalt in 1996.

To date, about 60 Nures® solutions tailored to customers’ needs have been delivered around the world. The biggest project in recent years has been the purification of radioactive waters in Fukushima, Japan.

Ion exchangers
Ion exchangers.