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Ecologists spawn new use for PIT tags

eration included pulse jet mixers, air spargers and steady jets generated by recirculation pumps.

In one test of an air sparger, 6,000 PIT tags were added to a tank filled with opaque simulant. Not much bigger than a grain of rice, the PIT tags contain an integrated circuit and an antenna encapsulated in glass. The tag is activated when it passes within range of an antenna that generates an electromagnetic signal. The signal alerts the tag to transmit its unique digital code back to the reader. The same principle is at work in antitheft devices attached to retail merchandise in department stores and in subcutaneous ID tags for pets. But according to PNNL researcher Rich Brown, this is likely the first time PIT tags have been associated with mixing simulated radioactive waste.

As the sparger went to work mixing waste, the tags were detected using custom-made antennas housed in four vertical wells of PVC pipe placed in the tank around the central sparger. A remote-controlled motorized system moved the antennas up and down within the wells to detect passing PIT tags at varying depths in the tank.

The tags have a signal range of 3 to 4 inches. Movement of the slurry was determined by identifying individual PIT tags during multiple antenna passes. In other tests, the PIT tag antennas were placed around the outside of the vessel.


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Contact: Judith Graybeal
graybeal@pnl.gov
509-375-4351
DOE/Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
4-Oct-2005


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