A Self-Powered, Wireless Sensor System for Remote and Long-Term Monitoring of Internal Conditions of Nuclear Waste Casks

Period of Performance: 06/08/2015 - 03/07/2016


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

X-wave Innovations, Inc.
407 Upshire Circle Array
Gaithersburg, MD 20878
Firm POC
Principal Investigator


A major concern with nuclear energy is the safe storage of the spent nuclear fuel before final disposal. A monitoring sensor located inside a storage cask to provide direct measurements of internal conditions is of particular interest to DOE. Conventional wireless sensors have inherent limitations because the stainless steel canister shields the RF signals from wireless sensors inside the canister to communicate with outside devices. In this proposal, X-wave Innovations, Inc. XII), along with Prof. James P. Blanchard from University of Wisconsin - Madison UW) and TechOpp Consulting Inc. TOC), proposes to develop a self-powered, wireless sensor system SPWSS) for monitoring the internal conditions of stainless steel SS) nuclear waste storage casks. The proposed SPWSS approach is based on XII-developed acoustic wave sensor technologies and Prof. Blanchard's significant work in nuclear micro-batteries. In Phase I, XII will prototype a system and demonstrate the feasibility of the proposed SPWSS technology for remote, long-term monitoring of internal conditions of nuclear waste storage casks. The focus of the Phase I program will be the overall SPWSS system design and prototyping, including SAW sensor design, fabrication, and SPWSS prototype integration and performance evaluation. The proposed SPWSS system provides an in-situ, reliable, accurate, and low-cost sensor technology for passive, remote, and long-term monitoring of the internal conditions of a nuclear fuel canister. This sensor technology can be used to monitor internal conditions and prevent catastrophic failure of pressure vessels of nuclear reactors, mission-critical components in aerospace vehicles, chemistry and oil refinement industry to improve the reliability, reduce maintenance costs, and extend the service life of those systems while maintaining their safety and reliability. Many other industries and government agencies dealing with structural condition/health monitoring will directly benefit from this SPWSS technology.