Original Date: 11/03/1996
Revision Date: 01/18/2007
Information : Analytical Instrumentation and Sensors
The Oak Ridge Y-12 Plant has developed numerous analytical instruments which can monitor manufacturing processes and effluents. These include a uranium monitor and a mass spectrometer. Designed for field usage, these small, portable units can quickly monitor environmental conditions such as detecting uranium in water samples or identifying the elemental and isotopic composition of gaseous samples.
Traditional sampling methods involve gathering water or air samples from numerous field locations throughout the day and sending the samples to a laboratory for analysis. The results would then be issued in a report and forwarded back to those responsible for maintaining the water or air quality at the test sites. With traditional methods, several days would elapse before a possible contaminant could be identified and addressed.
Y-12 devised a portable uranium monitor to replace the traditional bench-top laboratory analysis system (Figure 3- 5). Developmental steps included identifying the specific functions used in traditional systems; designing and testing an application-specific integrated circuit, user software, and a simple user interface; and fabricating all mechanical components. As a result, Y-12 successfully built a working prototype which can function as a portable or fixed- station monitor. In addition, the unit can be modified for detecting environmental pollutants such as polychlorinated biphenyls, poly nuclear aromatics, hydrocarbons, rare earth elements, and radioimmunoassay replacements. Y-12 estimates that the uranium monitor could be manufactured for less than $10,000.
Similarly, Y-12 has completed a miniaturized version of a mass spectrometer. This portable unit could be used to detect environmental contaminants such as exhaust gas, freon leaks, volatile organic compounds, and chemical warfare agents. In addition, Y-12 has been developing sensors for hydrogen peroxide, chlorinated solvents, hydrogen, fuel in water, industrial hygiene metals, and nitrogen oxides.
Oak Ridge has recognized that traditional detection methods can be costly and time consuming. By monitoring for possible environmental contaminants with portable monitors and sensors, users can benefit from real-time information, savings in utility use, improved inventory control, greater product yield, and increased product quality.
Figure 3-5. Uranium Monitor
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