Radiation exposure of nuclear workers is not only a serious health and safety issue, but also imposes substantial costs on nuclear utilities. Precise knowledge of the radiation environment within a nuclear facility is essential to minimizing personnel exposure. In recent years, there has been an emphasis on remote monitoring technology (RMT) in the nuclear industry. RMT often includes networks of fixed dosimeters. In many situations however, one would like to be able to monitor the radiation level using mobile robot-mounted-dosimeters or personal dosimeters. For this dosimeter information to be most useful, it must be correlated with location information. Q-Track is the pioneer in Near-Field Electromagnetic Ranging or """"""""NFER(R)"""""""" technology. NFER(R) systems operate in the MF band under Part 15 limits as low-power unlicensed transmitters. By using relatively low frequency, long wavelength transmissions, NFER(R) signals can propagate in complicated industrial environments with minimal impact from multipath. The Phase I effort demonstrated that Q-Track's NFER(R) systems can yield accurate real-time location even in the very difficult RF propagation environment of a nuclear industrial facility. We also demonstrated a proof- of-concept radiation map with the assistance of our subcontractor Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The ultimate goal of the Phase II effort is to prototype and test an economically viable commercial system for real-time location aware radiation monitoring. Conventional dosimeters provide radiation awareness to individual workers. The proposed effort will enable a Location Aware Radiation Monitoring System that takes this individual data and integrates it with location data to provide real-time radiation awareness in nuclear facilities. The proposed system will also support robotic monitoring of radiation in suspect areas, minimizing exposure to health physicists or radiological control technicians. Finally, the system will provide worker location and status data that will be of enormous value in the event of an emergency situation. The anticipated outcome of the proposed Phase II effort will be a prototype Location Aware Radiation Monitoring System with the following characteristics: Typical Location Accuracy: 1m or better in typical nuclear industrial environments Update Rate: 1Hz update rate for both location and radiation dose rate Hardware Integration: Worker or robot tag with combined location and dosimetry Software Integration: Radiological control software with real-time radiation mapping

Public Health Relevance

The proposed effort aims to develop a prototype Location Aware Radiation Monitoring System to correlate radiation exposure with real-time location. The proposed system will enhance the radiological safety of nuclear workers, allowing nuclear utilities to not only minimize worker radiation exposure, but also reduce the cost of electrical power. By sponsoring the proposed effort, NIEHS will not only promote nuclear worker safety but also promote worker safety in a wide variety of secondary industries where precise location of hazardous environmental characteristics would be beneficial.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS)
Small Business Innovation Research Grants (SBIR) - Phase II (R44)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-HOP-E (11))
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Shaughnessy, Daniel
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Q-Track Corporation
United States
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