Demonstration of the BNL Continuous Dual Trap Analyzer to Detect Perfluorocarbon Tracers for the Tag, Track and Location Program

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The Tag, Track and Location System (TTL) Program is investigating methods of tracking an asset using perfluorocarbon tracers (PFT). The success of any TTL method requires sound detection/location instrumentation. Tracer Detection Technologies Corp (TDT), through a contract with the Office of Naval Research (ONR), is investigating different detection systems. The detections systems generally fall into two categories; proximity detectors and standoff detectors. Proximity detectors, as the name implies, need to be in close proximity (e.g., meter to 10's of meters) to the PFT source. Standoff detection searches for the PFT from a greater distance away from the source (e.g., 100's ... continued below

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Heiser,J.H.; Adams, J.; Dietz, R..; Milian, L. & Watson, T. October 7, 2008.

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The Tag, Track and Location System (TTL) Program is investigating methods of tracking an asset using perfluorocarbon tracers (PFT). The success of any TTL method requires sound detection/location instrumentation. Tracer Detection Technologies Corp (TDT), through a contract with the Office of Naval Research (ONR), is investigating different detection systems. The detections systems generally fall into two categories; proximity detectors and standoff detectors. Proximity detectors, as the name implies, need to be in close proximity (e.g., meter to 10's of meters) to the PFT source. Standoff detection searches for the PFT from a greater distance away from the source (e.g., 100's of meters to kilometers). Gas Chromatographs (GC) are generally considered a proximity detection systems, but in the case of PFTs should be considered for both proximity and standoff detection with the caveat that in standoff use the GC needs to be somewhere in the PFT plume, i.e., generally downwind of the source. With a properly sized PFT source, the right GC can afford fairly large standoff (distance from the source) distances; 100's of meters to kilometers downwind. Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL) has such a GC system and offered to demonstrate the CDTA for TTL as a no cost addition to the TDTTTL project, of which BNL was a participant. BNL is a leading authority on the sampling, collection, release and detection of PFTs. In addition, the BNL team has extensive background in atmospheric dispersion, the application of PFTs to such studies and the development of applications utilizing PFTs such as building infiltration measurements, control room integrity determination, leak location and environmental investigations. This experience and expertise is essential in developing any PFT application were dispersion, dilution and overcoming environmental conditions and interferences are integral to success. BNL has developed sophisticated gas chromatography methods and instruments that allow detection of up to seven PFTs at part per quadrillion levels (1015) with sample times as short as 60 seconds. The Continuous Dual-Trap Analyzer (CDTA) was developed for leak hunting applications and can continuously sample the air for PFTs without interruption. Sample time can be as short as 60 seconds. The CDTA has been extensively used in the commercial sector to detect PFTs that have been introduced to leaking buried dielectric fluid-filled cables or leaking subsurface gas lines. The PFTs travel through the cable or pipe until they reach the leak site. PFTs then escape into the surrounding soil and permeate/diffuse to the surface where they can be detected with the CDTA. Typically a cable is tagged with ppm levels of PFTs resulting in ppt to ppq concentrations in the air at the leak site. The CDTA is proven to be rugged, reliable and has a proven track record of successful leak location. The application of the CDTA to PFT detection for TTL is identical to application for leak detection. The CDTA operator has a general idea, with a few miles of roadway, where the leak is located, but no specific knowledge of the location (it can be any where along the road). The CDTA is mounted in a Chevy Astro Van and is dispatched to the field. In the field the van is driven at nominally 15 mph along the road. The CDTA continuously samples the air outside the van (via a 1/4-inch plastic sample tube stuck out a side window) until a positive detection occurs. The van then covers the road section where the detection occurred at a slightly slower pace to pin-point the area where the leak is and to direct soil probe samples. The soil probe samples take soil gas samples every 10 yards or so and the samples are analyzed on the CDTA. The leak can be located to within a few feet in 95% of the cases. To date the CDTA has been successful in every leak hunt performed by BNL. One interesting case was a leak hunt that resulted in repeated negative detections. The confidence in the CDTA forced the utility to recheck its 'plumbing' which lead to the discovery that a valve was turned that shouldn't have been so that gas was being diverted rather than leaking (the pressure drop was due to this diversion of the gas to another line). For TTL application, a tagged item or person is known to be in a general area and can be located by detecting the PFT emanating from the tagging source. The CDTA can be deployed in the area and by sampling in a grid fashion (starting on the downwind side of the area of interest) can easily find even very small sources. The CDTA is a perfect match for this application and the leak hunt use basically a simulation of Track and Locate. No other PFT detection technology has the detection sensitivity, proven track record and ruggedness of the CDTA. For these reasons, BNL offered to demonstrate the CDTA for TTL as a no cost addition to the TTL lidar demonstration project. This report details the demonstration scenario and results.

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  • Report No.: BNL--90051-2008
  • Grant Number: DE-AC02-98CH10886
  • DOI: 10.2172/950829 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 950829
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc930972

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  • October 7, 2008

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  • Nov. 13, 2016, 7:26 p.m.

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  • Dec. 12, 2016, 8:30 p.m.

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Heiser,J.H.; Adams, J.; Dietz, R..; Milian, L. & Watson, T. Demonstration of the BNL Continuous Dual Trap Analyzer to Detect Perfluorocarbon Tracers for the Tag, Track and Location Program, report, October 7, 2008; United States. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc930972/: accessed August 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.