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Grant Earned To Produce Nuclear Radiation Energy-Harvesting Device
September 12, 2016

Lei Zuo, associate professor of mechanical engineering at Virginia Tech, was recently awarded a Department of Energy Nuclear Engineering research grant to develop nuclear radiation energy harvesting and through-wall wireless communication for enclosed metal containers in nuclear environments, like pressure reactor vessels or nuclear spent-fuel canisters.

Lei Zuo

With the $1 million grant from the Department of Energy, Zuo is putting his energy harvesting research to use to create a way to monitor the contents of storage containers used for spent nuclear fuel rods. The containers, which typically include one-half inch metal shells, aren’t suited for standard wireless technology, nor, due to their contents, can holes be drilled into them for power or data cables. Zuo’s approach to the problem is novel.

“To provide in-situ monitoring of the interior conditions of enclosed metal or thick concrete canisters, we are building a system that will use the gamma and beta radiations found within the canisters themselves,” said Zuo, who is the John R. Jones III Faculty Fellow of Mechanical Engineering. “Then we will use ultrasound transmission to deliver temperature, humidity, and other data through the wall of the canister to receivers outside that can be transmitted to user data.”

This story can be found on the Virginia Tech News website.

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