A SelfPowered, Wireless Sensor System for Remote and LongTerm Monitoring of Internal Conditions of Nuclear Waste Casks

Period of Performance: 08/01/2016 - 07/31/2018


Phase 2 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. Proposed Solution: In this proposal, Xwave Innovations, Inc., along with Prof. James P. Blanchard from University of Wisconsin Madison and TechOpp Consulting Inc., proposes a selfpowered, wireless sensor system capable of monitoring the internal conditions of stainless steel nuclear waste storage casks and wirelessly transmitting the signal through the thick steel wall without any cable running through it. The proposed SPWSS approach is based on XIIdeveloped acoustic wave sensor technologies and Prof. Blanchard's significant work in nuclear microbatteries. Phase I results: In Phase I, Xwave Innovations successfully built a prototype system and demonstrated the feasibility of the approach for simultaneously measuring multiple attributes (e.g., temperature and pressure) inside a sealed stainless steel canister and wirelessly transmitting the measurement data through the thick steel wall without direct connection. Phase II work: For Phase II , Xwave Innovations will expand the prototype's sensing capabilities for gases (e.g., H2) and moisture (H2O) measurements, and refine the prototype system design and development with improved hardware and software. Commercial Applications: The proposed selfpowered wireless sensor system provides an insitu, reliable, accurate, and lowcost sensor technology for passive, remote, and longterm monitoring of the internal conditions of a nuclear fuel canister. This sensor technology can also be used to monitor internal conditions and prevent catastrophic failure of pressure vessels of nuclear reactors, missioncritical 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 sensor technology. Key words Nuclear waste storage casks Remote sensing Long term monitoring Temperate measurements Pressure measurements Wireless.