Uranium, in various well-soluble chemical compounds such as carbonate and sulphate, occurs in ground water due to geogenic or anthropogenic reasons. In many European countries, uranium is found in natural ground water in concentrations of less than 1 to more than 100 parts per billion. Therefore, the uranium reaches drinking water via the ground water. It is not the radioactivity of uranium, which is hazardous to health – but as a heavy metal it may have nephrotoxic effects. In Germany, the Bundesrat (upper house of the German parliament) enacted a limiting value of 10 ppb. Based on scientific analysis, the Forschungszentrum Research Centre Karlsruhe developed a system that eliminates uranium from a drinking water supply in China. This research project was the technical base for developing the Uranex system, which adsorbs uranium from water very selectively that is made available worldwide by Veolia water technologies.
The Veolia Uranex-system is a highly-selective ion exchanger technology that adsorbs uranium from water without changing other dissolved ions which is beneficial to homes and factories depending on the need of water quality. The raw water enters the adsorption filter from the top and flows through it in a down flow mode that is an efficient way to filter water. The filter material is approved by the German Federal Environmental Agency for the application of drinking water treatment and the resulting water quality is very safe for everyone’s consumption. The highly-effective material is replaced by VWS Deutschland GmbH after a certain period (depending on feed water concentrations) and treated using a safe and approved reprocessing method.
At the end of 2010, Veolia water technology had constructed the world’s first residue-free regenerating plant for resin loaded with uranium. Their partner company, WISUTEC, operates of this facility, with which the resins are regenerated residue-free. Therefore, it can be reused for the drinking water treatment. The accumulating uranium is recovered as a recyclable material.
The system’s benefits for people around the world are: it is highly selective process which makes operation easier for the operators and companies. It has a very low residual uranium content in the out flow which has an approximate value of <0.1 parts per billion. It also has no change in the water composition which selects only certain chemicals to remove or filter depending on the use of water in the finished process. It can be combined with existing water treatment processes which is advantageous to existing water treatment facilities that looks for an upgrade for uranium removal in the water reservoir which then delivered to different parts of the community. It has easy adjustment function to changes in water quality which makes it user friendly and simple operation is developed. It has simple technology which can be automated with very low control requirement. It has low operating costs thus, making the company more profitable and the money saved can be used for further expansion or development of the whole system for the future. The exchange of the filter material and safe disposal is very efficient making it one the best water filtration system in the world.