Remote and real-time optical detection of
alpha-emitting radionuclides in the environment

The overall objective of this project is to develop novel optical systems for the remote detection and quantification of large-scale contamination with alpha emitters in the outdoor environment for the first time, allowing sound and quick countermeasures in the case of a radiological emergency.

The specific objectives of the project are:

  1. To develop a new method and instrumentation for the optical detection of alpha particle emitters in the environment by air radioluminescence over a detection range of more than two metres. This includes the development of the first prototype of a mobile-outdoor optical detection system for real time radioluminescence mapping of alpha sources in the environment.
  2. To develop and establish a calibration system for the novel-type radioluminescence detector systems. This includes a new metrological infrastructure with a dedicated UV radiance standard, well characterised alpha-active environmental sample (mineral-phase, soil, organic and plant specimen spiked with alpha emitters) and a validated calibration scheme for the remote detection of optical system.
  3. To extend the optical detection system to an imaging functionality for mapping of alpha contaminations in the environment. This includes the development of an unmanned airborne monitoring system (UAMS) that will integrate the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) and the novel alpha radioluminescence detection system developed in the objective 1 to scan and obtain an image of the contaminated area.
  4. To prepare and run a feasibility study for a laser-induced fluorescence spectroscopic method for the detection of alpha emitters. This method complements alpha-radioluminescence and, depending on laser parameters such as pulse power, photon wavelength and pulse duration, can enhance the detectable activity limit to below 1 kBq/cm2.
  5. To facilitate the take up of the results by stakeholders and provide input to relevant standardisation bodies and radiation protection authorities. Information on the project research results will be disseminated by the partners to standards committees, technical committees and working groups such as EURADOS, ISO, IEC, IAEA, BIPM CCRI (I)-(II), ICRM and EURAMET TC-IR. In addition, knowledge will be transferred to the nuclear industry sector.