The Karlsruhe Tritium Laboratory (TLK)

of the Institute for Astroparticle Physics (IAP)

The Institute for Astroparticle Physics (IAP) operates the European Tritium Laboratory Karlsruhe (TLK), a semi-technical scale facility for processing tritium, the radioactive hydrogen isotope. With its license to handle up to 40 grams of tritium, its present site inventory of about 30 grams of tritium, and its extensive infrastructure and experimental apparatus, TLK is almost unique - only Japan operates a research laboratory with a similar tritium inventory, however with a much smaller laboratory area.
TLK is a major facility of the German Helmholtz-Gemeinschaft research organisation.

More than 20 glove box systems, total volume of about 190 m³, are operated in an area of 1600 m² for experiments and infrastructure facilities. The TLK can look back on a history of more than 25 years of safe operation and experience with tritium.


1984 First concept of a Tritium Laboratory
1987 First contracts awarded to the industry

First successful official approval test of particular sections

  • Realization of Security procedure
  • First tritium delivery from Canada

Opening of the Tritium Laboratory Karlsruhe

Approval from the Ministry of the Environment for the use of 10 g tritium


Tritium experiments with PETRA and CAPRICE

Increase of the tritium quantity to 20 g

1996 Increasing of the working permission to 40 g tritium

Decision for the Tritium Laboratory as location for KATRIN

Proposal for the ITER fuel cycle


New working permission replaces all previous partial permissions

  • Increase of the gaseous tritium quantity to 25 g
  • Inclusion of future calibration sources for KATRIN
2010 Delivery of KATRIN WGTS demonstrator for cryotest
2015 Delivery of KATRIN WGTS and CPS
2016 KATRIN First Light measurement campaign
2018 Inaugaration of KATRIN with first tritium measurements
2019 Tritium circulation of up to 2.8 kg within KATRIN