Recently Awarded Proof of Concept Projects

The waste ‘packages’ currently stored on the Sellafield site was the focus of the Game Changers’ Condition Monitoring & Inspection call for innovation.

Over thirty applications were received with four progressing to Proof of Concept stage after generating interest from Sellafield’s technical teams.

The packages (cans, drums and mostly boxes) filled with various wastes are placed in above ground stores across the site with an anticipated 150,000 packages destined for such stores over the next few decades.

The current baseline position is to undertake monitoring by either removing individual packages into a designated area where they are inspected manually or by installing in-situ devices, the deployment of which is particularly difficult because of the complexity of the waste forms and the restrictive storage arrangements.

Sellafield’s challenge was for ideas, innovations and technologies that will deliver game-changing improvements over these current options. The following four projects have been identified as applications which demonstrate genuine potential and have subsequently been awarded proof of concept funding and support.

Pajarito Scientific Corporation : Alpha Liquids In-Situ Assay System (ALIAS)
The ALIAS concept is based on technology developed by Los Alamos National Laboratory for a specific glove-box based process monitoring application. The technology is potentially configurable for a wide variety of alpha and beta activity measurement situations.

The ALIAS system will provide real-time and cost effective measurement of the alpha/beta activity of environmental solutions, effluent streams and alpha emitting actinide solutions. ALIAS systems can be situated at a convenient in-line location such that the alpha activity is measured directly, and results provided immediately.

University of Strathclyde : Hyperspectral Imaging
Although visible inspection has been used to monitor packed nuclear waste, it can fail to detect any defects until they become apparent. Hyperspectral imaging sensors can potentially detect defects at a very early stage which may be invisible to human eyes.

This can be achieved by inspecting the thermal and spectral response caused by radioactive effect, contaminant and biological issues. The spectral images from near-infrared and short-wave infrared can characterise various physical/chemical properties beyond the visible spectrum.

enablingMNT : Biomorphic Sensors for Condition Monitoring & Inspection in Critical Environments
Exploiting advances in sensor self-test and prognostics achievements over recent years, this project aims to build a corrosion sensing solution that can self-monitor and adapt to evolving degradation, and with ultimately a self-healing capability that emulates the repair process in human skin.

The innovation is based around the use of electrical test stimuli with response analysis capable of both detecting and prognosis of physical degradation in the sensors. The concepts have been proven on an accelerometer and electrochemical sensors for water and bio-medical applications.

Fraunhofer CAP : Range-resolved Hydrogen Sensing for in-situ Condition Monitoring
The detection of hydrogen plumes at range, and ascertaining exact location, is very challenging. By exploiting a unique property of hydrogen, in combination with the recent emergence of high performance single-photon detectors, the project team are developing a device that will be able to detect this elusive molecule with unprecedented concentration and spatial accuracy over extended stand-off ranges.

For further information about any of these projects and opportunities for collaboration or partnership, please email