Detector for nuclear safety, decommissioning and diagnostic applications

Business Finland, Research to Business -project 1114/31/2021
01.07.2021 – 31.3.2023

Radiation emitted from different radioactive sources represents significant risk for health and environment. The need for radiation detection covers the operations, maintenance and decommissioning of all nuclear installations, such as all nuclear reprocessing plants, nuclear power plants and waste storage facilities as well as management of the used nuclear fuel. As a definition, nuclear safety covers the operations, maintenance and decommissioning of all nuclear installations. Globally there are about 440 operational nuclear power plants and about 50 more under construction. In Finland there are four operational nuclear reactors, one more in commissioning and approval procedure and yet another in the pipeline. CO2 emission-free energy production by nuclear power inevitably results in radioactive waste. Thus, nuclear safety and the related mandatory radioactivity detection have increasing societal impact domestically and globally. However, currently existing technologies for reliable radiation detection are typically old fashioned, clumsy and expensive. Our partners need reliable and accurate user-friendly detector systems that provide instantaneous and clear measurement data of different kinds and types of radiation.

We are answering the need for flexible, light-weight, multipurpose detector systems to face the growing security threats, increasing safety awareness among people working in radiation-prone environments, growing safety concerns post the Fukushima disaster, and use of drones for radiation monitoring. Our solution can also answer the need for trustworthy, light-weight, multipurpose detector systems to face the growth in the number of PET/CT scans and increasing usage of nuclear medicine and radiation therapy for diagnosis and treatment. Purpose of the DeNuSa project is to create a solution which is unique in its combination of accuracy and usability and the range of energies and types of radiation that can be measured simultaneously.

We are aiming to bring available a portable and scalable innovative semiconductor detector concept that is suitable for various crucial nuclear safety operations. Our detector concept is based on small size and on simultaneous and precise measurement of several kinds of radiation.

Radiation emitted from different nuclear sources has a very broad energy spectrum. It is impossible to cover the entire spectrum by a single radiation sensor. Our approach is to integrate multiple semiconductor radiation sensors into one detector assembly which covers the necessary spectrum with superior accuracy and sensitivity. Such detector systems can be implemented into remote controlled carriers (e.g. drone, robot or AI virtual goggles providing on-line video imaging) thus allowing radiation monitoring by accessing areas of potentially life -threatening radiation levels. Our multiple sensor solution is nominated ABC -approach. In this example, there are three semiconductor radiation sensors, each optimized for a certain energy range of  ionizing radiation. It would be possible, if needed for certain specific applications, to integrate more than three sensor levels ( ABCD, ABCDE…).