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The University of Southampton
NEXUSS - Next Generation Unmanned Systems Science

Sarah Laughlin


Robust assessment of radionuclide distribution and dispersion is fundamental to environmental process studies, routine and post-accident environmental monitoring, industrial facility monitoring and process control. Such assessments have generally relied on sampling and laboratory analysis, limiting the spatial resolution achievable and resulting in delays in data availability. In-situ techniques can provide real time data and temporal trending with significantly improved spatial resolution, particularly if the detection system is combined with a mobile platform. Remote detection also provides benefits in minimizing operator exposure to radiation, particularly important in post-accident scenarios or monitoring of high radiation dose environments such as nuclear or oil / gas facilities.

Existing in-situ techniques have focused on measurement of gamma emitting radionuclides which are relatively easy to detect. Pure beta and alpha emitting radionuclides, such as 90Sr and Pu, pose a significant technical challenge. Microfluidics coupled with on-line preconcentration strategies can provide a highly flexible, sensitive platform which can be developed to measure a wide range of beta and alpha emitting radionuclides.

Such systems offer the potential for integration into autonomous vehicles, providing significant improvements in spatial resolution and real-time mapping of radionuclide dispersion in the marine environment as well as offering attractive capability for nuclear site decommissioning surveys (pipelines, storage tanks etc). Additionally, such platforms can be integrated into automated control systems providing improved process monitoring and control for reactor operation and waste management.


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