RFID Tracks Nuclear Material, Hazmat and More

ARGONNE, Ill.—A unique tracking technology employing RFID devices makes it possible to monitor the environmental and physical condition of containers of nuclear, hazmat or other valued materials in storage and transportation.

Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory developed the technology that delivers the status and history of each container at the click of a mouse. The data can augment and modernize the current management system for nuclear materials. Monitoring of tens of thousands of radioactive and fissile material packages has been a challenge for DOE in efforts to ensure accountability, safety, security, worker and public health.

"The Argonne system can simultaneously monitor thousands of drums 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” explains Dr. Yung Li, Argonne senior nuclear engineer and RFID project manager. “Any abnormal situation, such a loss of a seal, a sudden shock, a rise in temperature or humidity, can trigger an alarm for immediate action.”

The system is comprised of long-life active transponders or tags, readers to collect data from the tags, a control computer and application software. "This new Argonne RFID technology—expected to be patented—has applications in many industries and as the technology is further developed, its usefulness is bound to grow," claims Dr. Li.

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