Monitoring nuclear fuel

Customer:
Mirion Technologies
Product:
DVMO COFDM Digital Video Transmitter (TX) and Receiver (RX)
Application:
Nuclear fuel reprocessing
Industry / Vertical:
Utilities Monitoring nuclear fuel

Company:

Mirion Technologies provides products to detect, monitor and identify radiation for nuclear, military and defence, homeland security and medical industries. The company has more than 700 employees worldwide and 13 production facilities across North America, Europe and Asia.

Issue:

Nuclear fuel spends five years in a reactor before waste products start to build up and affect its efficiency. Once it reaches this ‘use by’ date, the fuel is removed. Although it is considered a waste product, only 3% of the fuel is deemed useless; ‘spent’ fuel actually still contains 96% Uranium and 1% Plutonium, both valuable reusable substances.

‘Spent’ fuel is shipped in from both overseas and around the UK but before it is recycled or ‘reprocessed’ and transported to a nuclear plant to be reused, the material, housed in protective flasks, is placed in water ponds in a high security storage facility to cool down. Because it is still highly radioactive and generates heat and energy, the dangerous and sensitive nature of the fuel means the flasks are moved around using a remote controlled mechanical handling system.

For the operator to monitor and accurately move these flasks, radiation tolerant cameras are connected to track crawlers to offer a more detailed line of sight. Mirion Technologies had previously provided and fitted cable-based cameras in a large UK nuclear plant. However, to avoid the potential obstruction of trailing wires to an adjoining control room and improve safety, the nuclear facility approached Mirion Technologies to upgrade the camera system using wireless technology.

Apart from delivering a reliable and seamless wireless signal in a challenging industrial environment, Mirion Technologies also had to consider issues surrounding security: the wireless transfer of sensitive video data needed to be highly encrypted to protect potential interception from outside sources. Mirion Technologies turned to UK-based wireless specialist Wood & Douglas to provide a suitable radio solution that met this strict protocol.

Solution:

Wood & Douglas deployed its dVMo COFDM (Coded Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing) Digital Video two-way radio receiver and transmitter. Designed to maintain a resilient signal in the presence of interference, the COFDM modulation is able to overcome multipath effects - caused by obstructions and swathes of metal and concrete that are common in a nuclear facility area – effectively transmitting and processing delayed and scattered video signals without any lag in performance.

With nuclear facilities dealing in confidential information, tight security is paramount when transmitting data wirelessly. Already able to defend against casual interception of data, the dVMo system is also set-up to guard against more aggressive attacks with a two password generated 32-bit ABS encryption system. However Wood and Douglas was able to increase security further by upgrading the set to a 128-bit and 256-bit encryption system, offering the nuclear plant peace of mind from any digital ambushes.

  • Critical wireless transmission of video from a radiation tolerant camera to a control room
  • Adeptly processes delayed multipath affected video signals without a drop in performance
  • High level encryption security system protects sensitive data from being intercepted

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