Collaborative efforts between smart infrastructure construction company Costain and technology researcher Createc have resulted in innovative measurement technology for analysing radiation in contaminated structures, a move which could revolutionise nuclear decommissioning.
During decommissioning of concrete structures, operators need to be able to work out accurately and rapidly exactly where the waste classification boundary sits in order to devise a decommissioning strategy to minimise the volume of waste.
The D:EEP (Estimating Entrained Product) development programme enables clients to measure radioactive contaminants within concrete structures, allowing operators to understand what depth they need to go to remove any contamination, improving safety and accuracy as well as saving considerable time and money.
At present, “coring” is the most commonly used method to measure radioactivity and can result in sparse readings, damage to the fabric of the facility, as well as present significant radiological hazards to the operations team.
Using a combination of modelling and spectral analysis techniques, D:EEP is a flexible system designed to give the nuclear industry the capability to overcome these challenges and provide intelligence led decisions, removing risk.
Createc was responsible for pioneering the technology, applying knowledge from medical imaging, whilst Costain’s role was providing the leading-edge engineering solutions to enable the integration of the technology into a workable, smart solution.
Speaking on the advantages of D:EEP, David Clark, Createc’s operations director and technical lead, said: “D:EEP can be used to help define a decommissioning strategy at the outset revealing the challenge from the start.
“Any operator who is responsible for concrete structures with radiological contamination is going to benefit from this technology, or any operator responsible for safe disposal of contaminated concrete.”
Matt Mellor, chief executive of Createc, added: “This is all about seeing beneath the surface and seeing differently. The radiation coming out of the surface has the history of its journey through the concrete embedded in it in the form of ‘scatter’. To most, this scatter is an unwanted contaminant in a measurement, but we realised it contained the very information we needed.
“Createc is about the ideas and innovation, taking technology and applying it to a different problem. Once we have the principles in place and we know it works, we look for partners with connections in the market to work with us to turn our innovation into a commercial product.”
Rob Phillips, energy sector director, Costain, said: “This technology advancement is a perfect example of industry collaboration and the role Costain is playing to nurture supply chain innovation.
“We can provide the domain knowledge and engineering expertise to establish the best approach to deployment of the technology developed by Createc and ensure this smart solution can be brought to market rapidly.”
The D:EEP technology was highly commended in the NDA Group Supply Chain Awards collaboration category. It also achieved a Sellafield Business Excellence Gold Award relating to its use in a Pile Fuel Storage Pond dewatering trial.
Image: D.EEP could revolutionise nuclear decommissioning (Boscorelli/Dreamstime.com)