Feasibility Study of Millimeter Wave Radars for Safeguards Applications

Mitchell Mika - University of Florida
Yonggang Cui - Brookhaven National Laboratory
Odera Dim - Brookhaven National Laboratory
Chris Pickett - Spectra Tech
Containment and surveillance are fundamental measures in nuclear safeguards. Techniques such as video surveillance and laser curtain for containment provide effective monitoring in areas where maintaining continuity of knowledge is required. These systems, however, can be susceptible to loss of monitoring capabilities under certain environmental conditions such as poor visibility (i.e., low light conditions, smoke, fog, etc.) or extended power loss past the duration that the backup power system is designed for. Brookhaven National Laboratory has been investigating the feasibility of millimeter waves (mmWave) as a new perimeter seal in which radio frequency waves in the range of 60-64 GHz are used to detect and monitor objects of interest. Signals in this frequency range are not susceptible to environmental conditions. For proof-of-concept tests, mmWave sensors from Texas Instruments (TI), specifically IWR6843, are used in a test bed at BNL’s Waste Management facility to simulate the operations at nuclear facilities. The unique design of TI mmWave sensors requires less memory and power consumption compared to counterpart systems. These devices are capable of exporting 3D point-cloud data, which is visualized graphically and compared to videos recorded at the same time to validate the performance of the mmWave sensor. A set of experiments is planned to test the feasibility of the mmWave in this application, including monitoring static containers in a storage area and detecting intrusions at the boundaries of the area. In addition, the experiments also identify potential blind spots relative to sensor position and utilize multiple operating sensors simultaneously to reduce or eliminate such blind spots. An optimal positioning of multiple sensors will be determined for the experimental room configuration. In this paper, we will discuss the details of this novel perimeter sealing concept and present the test results.