Today, Q-Track demonstrated “A Location Aware Radiation Monitoring System” (ALARMS) at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) Experimental Gas Cooled Reactor (EGCR) facility. Q-Track’s Near-Field Electromagnetic Ranging (NFER®) location system used four Locator-Receivers spaced about 20m (60ft) apart to track both workers and radiation-monitoring robots. The system achieved a 30cm (1ft) typical accuracy. The location error rarely exceeded 1m (3ft). The infrastructure located a Tag-Transmitter over most of the facility’s basement, which is 38 x 27m (125 x 88ft).
ORNL personnel assisted in the integration of a teledosimeter and Q-Track’s NFER® location system. A teledosimeter enables reading of radiation levels by a remote computer. The Q-Track-ORNL Team demonstrated an ability to map radiation fields around low level radiation sources.
This test, sponsored by the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), confirmed the feasibility of wireless location systems in nuclear plants. Steel reinforced concrete construction and an abundance of metal equipment confound high frequency or microwave tracking systems. Q-Track’s low-frequency approach to wireless location proved remarkably robust under these very challenging circumstances.
The keyword for nuclear safety is “ALARA.” ALARA means “As Low As Reasonably Achievable:” the goal when it comes to radiation exposure in nuclear plants. Minimizing radiation exposure of workers may soon be much easier if the system demonstrated by Q-Track and ORNL is commercialized. By merging Q-Track’s location data with radiation dosimetry, robots will be able to map out and identify potentially dangerous levels of radiation. The radiation map will update immediately as workers with dosimeter/location tags move through the area. This radiation mapping provides a prompt indication of emerging problems and enables workers to avoid the radiation hazard until they get a chance to clean it up.
Q-Track gratefully acknowledges the assistance of ORNL. ORNL is managed by UT-Battelle for the Department of Energy. Funding for this project was made possible by NIEHS Grant 1R41ES016727-01 from the National Institute of Health (NIH). The views expressed do not necessarily reflect the official policies of the Department of Health and Human Services; nor does mention of trade names, commercial practices, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.