Radiation health and safety of a radioisotope powered micro fuel cell Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/h989r608f

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  • Radiation health and safety issues associated with a plutonium-powered radioisotope powered micro fuel cell (RMFC) were evaluated. The RMFC converts water into its component elements by radiolysis and the resultant hydrogen is used to power the fuel cell. This device is under development and is being considered for possible deployment with unattended sensing devices. In addition to emitting alpha particles from the decay of plutonium, the RMFC produces secondary neutrons via (u,n) reactions. Several exposure scenarios were examined in order to assess the potential radiological impact from an intact, and a breached device. The scenarios include dose to personnel 30 cm from an RMFC, implanting a device in the chest cavity, and accidentally ingesting a device. All exposure scenarios with the intact RIVIFC resulted in total effective dose equivalent rates of less than 2.5 rem per year. Exposure scenarios with a damaged RMFC considered inhalation of the radioisotope and resultant dose at acute (1-day) and committed (50-year) time frames. Inhalation dose coefficients (Sv/Bq) from Federal Guidance Report 11 were used to determine the resultant committed effective dose equivalent (CEDE) and relative risk due to the inhalation of the radionuclide. NUREG/CR-42 14 guidelines for deterministic effects of acute exposure were used to examine the risk and possible lethality from high doserate acute exposures. These exposure scenarios were considered conservative, because no mitigating features were incorporated into the design of the RMFC. Mitigating features can reduce the amount of neutrons from (a,n) reactions and limit the amount of the radioisotope that will be available for atmospheric dispersion in the event the device is breached. The final analysis concludes that the dose to individuals living in a zone where the device has been breached will not exceed 60 mrem in any one year following a dispersion event. Although the RMFC is not necessarily designed to operate under the proposed exposure scenarios, a comprehensive evaluation of possible modes of exposure is informative and prudent This is particularly true because the device employs radioactive material, and applications of this technology demand the highest rigor in evaluating any plausible normal operation, or accident exposure scenario. This analysis will aid in the ongoing development of the RMFC prototype.
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