The growing necessity for monitoring and management of radioactive waste in the U.S. has motivated the Department of Energy to engage the newer generation of engineers to design and develop innovative technologies to address this issue. The DOE Fellows at the FIU Applied Research Center have been tasked with evaluating and researching engineering solutions and applications that provide solutions to this problem.
Gabriela Vazquez, a FIU DOE Fellow, is currently working on the development of an inspection device to monitor the conditions of the radioactive waste tanks. The technology is designed to navigate through the refractory cooling channels at the bottom of the tank and provide video feedback of the integrity of the tank and potential locations of leaks. Reports have shown that, in some double shell tanks, waste have been found between the inner shell and the outer shell. This waste is believed to have originated from the tank bottom and flowed through the cooling channels of the refractory pad. The refractory pad has cooling channels at 72 entry points from the outer diameter of the pad to the center of the tank with a minimum channel size of 1.5 by 1.5 inches. Using these channels, the inspection device is designed to navigate straight sections and turn sharp 90° turns. Challenges include, having the capability to withstand high temperatures, metal hardening due to radiation, and not subjecting the channel walls to pressures greater than 200 psi. The proposed design consists of a camera housed in a frame powered by motored wheels and a magnetic plate. This configuration will allow the inspection device to travel attached to the bottom of the tank without damaging the refractory pad and staying clear of debris built up in the channels.