INL technology is launched

The market debut of Idaho National Laboratory’s colorimetric detection of actinides (CoDeAc) does not mark the end of the story of the award-winning technology. According to its inventors and today’s investors, it’s just the beginning of a new chapter.

“CoDeAc has a bright future,” said INL researcher and CoDeAc inventor Catherine Riddle. “With increased interest and expansion, there are new opportunities for future colorimetric detection products and a wide range of new technologies aimed at the rapid detection of radionuclides.”

ORIGINS OF CODEAC

Riddle, along with fellow INL researcher Rick Demmer, began developing CoDeAc in 2019 to help first responders, radiation specialists, and nuclear operators detect uranium and plutonium when responding to a nuclear emergency.

Previous detection tools on the market screened beta, gamma and neutron emitting radionuclides. However, Riddle said those tools lacked the sensitivity and adaptability of CoDeAc to detect alpha-emitting radiological species like uranium and plutonium, particularly in ambient background situations.

The simplicity of the technology and the use of quick color identification – purple for uranium and pink for plutonium – make this tool shine above others. Riddle and Demmer designed the solution to change color within a minute when sprayed or wiped on a variety of surfaces to detect potential nuclear contamination.

Click here for more information on CoDeAc.

FROM TABLETOP TO MARKETPLACE

A 2020 R&D 100 Award winner, CoDeAc attracted industry interest due to its low cost, environmental friendliness and rapid detection capabilities. Among those interested parties was Innovyz USA of Chicago.

According to its website, Innovyz USA specializes in commercializing advanced materials that solve fundamental challenges impacting the world. The company combines the functions of an accelerator, incubator, venture capitalist and management consultancy to help innovations succeed in the marketplace.

“With CoDeAc, we have seen an encouragingly novel solution to a difficult problem with multiple application areas and avenues for commercialization,” said Scott Nuzum, general manager of Innovyz USA. “We also saw a product developed by world-class innovators and backed by a world-class institution.

“The level of work that comes from INL is extremely high, which also gives us great confidence that we can build a company that changes the world,” he said.

Innovyz USA licensed the technology and formed the start-up CoDeAc Solutions to sell it for commercial purposes. The company’s website advertises a uranium detection kit containing 30 milliliters of solution and materials for 12 detection tests for US$210.

According to Nuzum, CoDeAc Solutions markets to a variety of sectors including military, security and civilian organizations. Nuzum said the product interests these organizations given current geopolitical trends and the role nuclear power is playing as a key component in global decarbonization efforts. One of those future customers could be the Transportation Security Administration, who could use it for airport and airplane screening.

“We believe that CoDeAc can solve multiple challenges in use cases and sectors – and not only in the security and defense sectors,” said Nuzum. “We also see promising applications for the mining and energy sectors as we believe it could be a useful tool for aerospace companies looking to develop next-generation propulsion systems.” Above all, we see a future strengthened by the existence of CoDeAc.”

Jason Stolworthy, Director of Technology Deployment at INL, said that CoDeAc highlights the impact of INL technologies in addressing real-world problems. It also draws attention to the need to ensure these technologies reach the market.

“CoDeAc is a great success story of collaboration between the Department of Energy and the INL’s technology transfer efforts,” said Stolworthy. “INL has over 400 active licenses with companies and organizations utilizing and commercializing INL innovations. The breadth of INL’s impact is inspiring.”

THE FUTURE OF CODEAC

CoDeAc development continues, Riddle said. Work is ongoing on a solution that would detect physical contamination, which may be critical for first responders and the general public dealing with contamination caused by conventional explosives dispersing radioactive material.

Current internal contamination detection is a lengthy process. It requires collecting and drying a large volume sample from one person and then using traditional detection methods that take up to four hours per sample.

“If you have potentially hundreds of first responders to test and tens of thousands of people in the area, you have months of testing ahead of you, even with numerous detectors running 24/7,” Riddle said. “With CoDeAc, the sampling would be similar to a pregnancy test and the results for uranium and plutonium would provide a positive or negative result in less than a minute.”

About the Idaho National Laboratory
The Battelle Energy Alliance manages INL for the US Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy. The INL is the national center for nuclear energy research and development and also conducts research in all of the DOE’s strategic target areas: energy, national security, science and the environment. For more information visitwww.inl.gov. Follow us on social media:Twitter,Facebook,InstagramandLinkedIn.

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