Wireless sensors are becoming very popular in industrial processes for measurement and control, condition monitoring, predictive maintenance, and management of operational transients and accidents. In the last five years, many sensor manufacturers have teamed up with companies who make wireless transmitters, receivers, and network equipment to provide industrial facilities with integrated networks of wireless sensors that can be used to measure process temperature, pressure, vibration, humidity, and other parameters to improve process safety and efficiency, increase output, and optimize maintenance activities. Historically, the nuclear industry has been slower than others in implementing new technologies - wireless technologies are no exception. This is of course justified, as nuclear research and power reactors must perform a more thorough "due diligence" than other industries before they can adopt a new technology because of the increased safety and licensing requirements.
This paper reports on a research and development (R&D) effort sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) under the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program to implement wireless sensors for equipment condition monitoring and other applications in nuclear power plants. The project is being demonstrated through the development and implementation of a system that integrates signals from existing wired sensors and new wireless sensors to facilitate a holistic view of the health of equipment and processes in nuclear power reactors.