Bradtec, a research and development company based in the grounds of the University of the West of England, has developed a process to remove radioactive elements from the cooling water of nuclear reactors.
The idea behind the process is essentially an electrochemical cell stripping the radioactive metals from an ion-exchange resin, which is the primary metal removing agent. This results in small volumes of radioactive metal, rather than large volumes of contaminated resin. Called the Elomix process it won the prestigious R&D 100 award for technical development.
A wide variety of process parameters needed to be collected from the pilot scale test rig, including temperature, pressure, flow rate and digital input and output data. Flexibility and low cost were of key importance and so they chose the Microlink 3000 data acquisition hardware together with the modular Windmill software to monitor the test rig.
A considerable amount of control of the rig operation was required and the Microsoft Excel spreadsheet has performed well as a powerful and flexible control tool. Macros written in Excel can call data from the Windmill applications and control the analogue and digital inputs and outputs in the Microlink system.
The system will continue to offer the scale and robustness required when the process grows into a fully operational unit.