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Measurement and Instrumentation for Cleaning And Decommissioning Operations

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - MICADO (Measurement and Instrumentation for Cleaning And Decommissioning Operations)

Reporting period: 2020-12-01 to 2023-02-28

MICADO goal is to develop a framework that is intended to become a standard to facilitate and harmonize the methodologies for in-field Radioactive Waste Management and D&D operations.
The RCMS DIGIWASTE solution is an expert platform integrating hardware and software technologies to fully characterizes the Radioactive Waste Packages (RWP) reducing time and errors, improving the ALARA, better addressing different waste packages automatically and keeping each single element under control during each phase of the storage process. It integrates RFID technology, data fusion and digitization of radiation measurements.
By performing NDA to define the characterization protocol, determine the waste category and provide a complete solution for the waste traceability from waste packaging and assembling up to long-term monitoring in the final storage; MICADO integrates smart technologies and adaptable measurements done using established state-of-the-art techniques. RWP and their final disposal remain a controversial topic for the public opinion as testified by what happened in Italy after the publication of the CNAPI (the National chart of the potentially suitable areas for the Italian nuclear repository), by the violent protest occurred close to the CIGEO future geological disposal site (France) or by the difficulties encountered in Germany to identify a suitable disposal site. Improving public acceptance of radioactive waste repositories and/or disposals may be achieved by pursuing an accurate characterization of RWP followed by guaranteed safety and integrity in the longer term, that can be achieved by quickly detect potential leaks of radioactive materials from a RWP, contrary to what happened at the WIPP plant (USA) in 2014.
The project finished in February 2023 with the final demo performed at the ENEA Casaccia laboratories at the end of January.
The project had been extended by 9 months to attenuate the negative effect of the COVID-19 pandemics and all the problems connected with supply of electronic components but not only. Thanks to the extension and, most of all, the effort by all the partners, the final demo took place as expected and the work scheduled at the beginning of the project was completed.
Management and exploitation work packages achieved all their goals by the end of the project.
The technical work packages where successfully completed in time for the final demo, some minor adjustment had to be made with respect to the initial plan due to unavailability of the dedicated resources not present anymore at the end of the project.
The neutron inspection techniques, both active and passive, were effectively shown at the demo, the whole chamber was built and assembled thanks to the combined effort of ENEA, CEA and CAEN. The system performed brilliantly exceeding the minimum detectable activities (MDA) of similar commercial systems.
The gamma station saw the combination of different kind of technologies, the segmented gamma scanner based on the high purity germanium detector was combined with the RadHand for a full characterization of a drum, then the gamma camera was used to identify possible hot spots. This system provides a detailed view along the longitudinal axis of the RWP, plus a picture detailing possible area that emit higher than desired gamma flux. The RadHand could be used not only for gamma spectroscopy measurements but also to take a picture of the drum and read/write the RFID tag.
Still in the scope of gamma investigation techniques there is the photofission, demonstrated at the CEA facility near Paris, which potential was showcased during the project and similar drum to those used in the final demo in Rome where inspected.
Finally, we had another measurement system dedicated to the storage facilities, which was designed to be low cost and low maintenance to populate as much as possible a facility storing hundreds of RWP. The system is based on two different detectors: scintillating fibers to detect gamma and a doped Si detector for the neutrons, this system was tested at various partners’ premises and shown during the final demo using real drum at the ENEA. The results were impressive and also variation due to meteorological effects were observed.
All these systems were developed and built during MICADO, some from scratch some from existing parts and fully integrated thanks to the project, where each subsystem was fully tested in dedicated laboratories and at the end we tested the whole system at ENEA Casaccia, showing great performance in terms of resolution and MDA.
The integration could not overlook the main thread connecting the dots in MICADO: the digitalization. The outputs of each measurement system are fully digitalized and saved in a dedicated database, a customized version of the CAEN DigiWaste, to properly save the measurements in the database various interfaces between each detector and the database had to be done. Then, once saved, these measurements could be combined, also with the help of Montecarlo simulations, in order to decrease the uncertainty associated with them.
This uncertainty optimization process was performed following simulation studies on specific virtual cases, the quantification of the uncertainty related to the characterization of a RWP was recomputed in a Bayesian interference approach in which the a priori is updated each time according to the real knowledge of the RWP. Therefore, the final uncertainty is not just a sum of the uncertainties but better reveal the actual knowledge of the drum.
The overall status of the project at the end of the final demo was satisfactory, of course some technologies were more mature than others since the beginning and this is reflected by the TRL reached by each of them. The readier subsystems have been included among the key exploitable results (KER) on the EU portal, they are:
Gamma multi scanner, Active and passive neutron scanner, DIGIWASTE database platform.
During the project we participated to many events organized by partners, stakeholders, or regulatory bodies. The interest on the digitalization technologies offered within the MICADO framework was always genuine and its modularity/scalability praised.
The project focus was to improve current technologies and bringing them into XXI century thanks to a massive use of digitalization, not only for storing the data but also to combine them and eventually archiving the whole history of an RWP.
Some detection technologies saw advances in their minimum detection amount (neutron a gamma detectors), while others saw for the first time a real field trial (long term monitoring grid). All data collected by the subsystem was processed and digitized before being stored and an analyzed to make the best possible estimate on final characterization uncertainty.
The MICADO frame has shown to preform reliable measurements, being flexible and adaptable to various scenarios with the added-on value of a custom database build from the ground up to use the RWP as indexing key.
Simplicity, scalability, and reliability are paramount for ensuring a long-term impact of the MICADO project, we all know that the nuclear industry is hesitant to adopt changes but thanks to the right mix of proven techniques plus innovations the MICADO has raised interest by many stakeholders. Moreover, its simplicity and easy accessible features will also improve the public perception of nuclear characterization processes and handling of RWP.
The Monitoring Grid
The Demonstration in C43 lab
The MICADO Consortium at ENEA Casaccia for the Final DEMO