The device combines medical imaging techniques and AI


The Nuclear Safety Council (CSN) has granted funding to develop a new project at the Institute of Corpuscular Physics (IFIC), a joint center of the Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC) and the University of Valencia (UV), to evaluate a technology that improves nuclear waste management.

This is the Proton project, which aims to develop evaluation methodologies to test a tomographic technology developed at the IFIC that allows “visualizing, analyzing and controlling nuclear waste activity.” The project team will take measurements and test these evaluation methodologies at the Garoña nuclear power plant (Burgos), as reported by the CSIC CV in a statement.

This project is born from a collaboration that began in 2015 between an IFIC research team led by CSIC scientist Francisco Albiol and the National Radioactive Waste Company (Enresa). They developed a series of disruptive technologies that allow dynamic tomography of gamma radiation from the radioactive isotopes of nuclear waste, thus facilitating its classification and reducing costs in the process of dismantling nuclear power plants, which are estimated at around 4,000 million euros in Spain.

Until now, static procedures have been used to determine the activity and dose of a radioactive waste container. “The technology that we have developed at the IFIC allows a more agile and independent tomographic reconstruction of the shape of the container and the position of the detectors, taking advantage of the recognition of the environment through intelligence and artificial vision, as well as tomographic techniques adapted from medical imaging. “, explained Francisco Albiol.

However, this technology requires an evaluation by the regulatory body, the CSN, before its incorporation into the industry. In this context, the main objective of the Proton project is to “familiarize” the CSN with the use, advantages and limitations of the technology developed by the IFIC, as well as to compile relevant aspects for their calibration and management.

“During the implementation of the project, we seek to evaluate portable and geometry-independent gamma ray tomography devices, in order to guarantee their ability to estimate the distribution and quantification of activity and dose accurately,” summarized the project coordinator at the CSN, Juan González Cadelo.

For the correct evaluation of the developed technologies, the members of the project have among their objectives to go to the Garoña nuclear power plant (Burgos), where measurements will be taken and the implemented methodologies will be tested. Currently, a prototype for the tomographic reconstruction of gamma activity and its three-dimensional distribution in nuclear waste containers has already been validated, which has led to several patents for these developments.

This project not only seeks to provide criteria that “inspire confidence” in the technology to characterize nuclear waste, but also “meet industry regulatory requirements and establish limits that ensure the proper functioning of this innovative technology.” “With Proton we hope to significantly improve the evaluation and management processes of nuclear waste, thus contributing to safety and efficiency in the nuclear industry,” concluded Albiol.