Saturday, March 24, 2018

    VOL.32,  No.21  -
Highlights of this issue:

Ø Railways allows Building of Residential Complexes around station
Ø TN Govt to give online building planning permissions in 45 days
Ø Land Owner ,Investors having Area, Revenue Share in Real Estate Project to be treated as Promoter: Goa RERA
Ø MMR to get 2.5 FSI for Affordable Homes
Ø Fit out Possession –Gimmick by Builders to delay project & avoid penalties
Ø Land  Cost cannot be withdrawn from Escrow in RERA Register Project upfront
Ø History Repeats, MHADA Plans to slash prices of unsold flats
Ø Indore Was The Only City To See Flourishing Market After GST And RERA
Ø NAREDCO Signs MoU at Magnetic Maharashtra
Ø Rs 12 Lakh fined Kabra & Associates for advertising Unregistered Projects
Ø State Govt may reduce rent for Mumbai housing Societies
Ø Only  Infra can arrest property price
Ø Impact of Mill Land
Ø RERA,REITs, GST, etc to spur the housing & construction activities: Puri
Ø Indiabulls Finance Raises Rs 315 Crore for affordable housing sector
Ø CCI fines Rs 1Cr on Ghaziabad Devt Authority for Raising EWS flat price
Ø EOW arrest building in second cheating case
Ø Brokerage Paid To Rent Property Is Not Allowable Deduction Under Income Tax
Ø Ministry to announce 10 more cities under Smart Cities Mission
Ø GDP growth will Robust in 2018-19: NITI Aayog
Ø How to complain against Builder under RERA
Ø Goa to Frame new law to protect NRIs’ property on the card
Ø Stamp duty charges on gifting of property
Ø Karnataka RERA issues 477 notices to promoters so far
Ø Maha RERA Launches Conciliation Forum operational from Feb ,2018
Ø Services By Way Of Renting Of Residential Dwelling For Use As Residence Is Exempted Under GST
Ø 1% TDS On Purchase Of Immovable Property Must be Deducted
Ø Property transactions will be linked to Adhaar Soon Says Puri
Ø Logistics Sector Granted Infrastructure Status
Ø Property Rates (All rates are on RERA Carpet Area)

Sun Pharma gets USFDA nod for skin disorder drug

MUMBAI: Sun Pharmaannounced that US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Ilumya (tildrakizumab-asmn) for the treatment of moderate-to-severe plaque psoriasis of adults, who are candidates for systemic therapy or phototherapy.
“With the approval of Ilumya and our long-standing commitment in dermatology, we are focused on making a difference for people living with moderate-to-severe plaque psoriasis,” said Abhay Gandhi, president and CEO North America, Sun Pharma.

The FDA approval of Ilumya for the treatment of adults with moderate-to-severe plaque psoriasis was supported by data from the pivotal Phase-3 reSURFACE clinical development programme, says a release.

Sun Pharmaceutical wholly-owned subsidiary licensed worldwide rights to Ilumya from a subsidiary of Merck & Co in 2014. Funded by a Sun Pharma subsidiary, US-based Merck & Co was responsible for the completion of Phase-3 trials and submission of a biologics license application to USFDA, as well as manufacturing finished goods to support Sun Pharma’s initial product launch.

Sun Pharma will be responsible for all post-approval regulatory activities, including subsequent submissions, pharmacovigilance, post approval studies, manufacturing and commercialization of the approved product.


US FDA approves Novartis' Tasigna to treat children with rare form of leukemia

Novartis announced that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) expanded the indication for Tasigna (nilotinib) to include treatment of first- and second-line pediatric patients one year of age or older with Philadelphia chromosome-positive chronic myeloid leukemia in the chronic phase (Ph+ CML-CP).
In the United States, Tasigna is now indicated for the treatment of adult and pediatric patients one year of age or older with newly diagnosed Ph+ CML-CP. Tasigna is also indicated for the treatment of pediatric patients one year of age or older with Ph+ CML-CP resistant or intolerant to prior tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) therapy, as well as adult patients with Ph+ CML in chronic phase and accelerated phase, resistant or intolerant to prior therapy that included imatinib.

This approval is the latest in a series of regulatory milestones that broadens the understanding and clinical use of Tasigna.

CML is a type of blood cancer where the body produces malignant white blood cells. Almost all patients with CML have an abnormality known as the "Philadelphia chromosome," which produces a protein called BCR-ABL. This protein aids the proliferation of malignant white blood cells in affected patients. Worldwide, CML accounts for approximately 3% of newly diagnosed childhood leukemia.
"Novartis' commitment to people living with CML is reinforced by today's FDA approval of Tasigna in children," said Liz Barrett, CEO, Novartis Oncology. "This expanded use, along with the other recent global regulatory Tasigna milestones, underscores our dedication to reimagining medicine and addressing the needs for people with CML, including children with this cancer."

The new indications, granted under the FDA's Priority Review designation, are based on two studies evaluating the efficacy and safety of nilotinib in pediatric patients (two years to less than 18 years of age) with Ph+ CML-CP. A total of 69 Ph+ CML-CP pediatric patients, either newly diagnosed (first-line) or who were resistant or intolerant to prior TKI therapy (second-line), received nilotinib. In newly diagnosed pediatric patients, the major molecular response (MMR; BCR ABL/ABL <=0.1% International Scale [IS]) rate was 60.0% (95% confidence interval [CI]: 38.7, 78.9) at 12 cycles, with 15 patients achieving MMR[2]. The cumulative MMR rate among newly diagnosed pediatric patients was 64.0% by cycle 12, and the median time to first MMR was 5.6 months (range: 2.7 to 16.6). In pediatric patients with resistance or intolerance to prior TKI therapy, the MMR rate was 40.9% (95% CI: 26.3, 56.8) at 12 cycles, with 18 patients being in MMR[2]. The cumulative MMR rate among pediatric patients with resistance or intolerance was 47.7% by cycle 12, and the median time to first MMR was 2.8 months (range: 0.0 to 11.3).

Adverse reactions observed in these pediatric studies were generally consistent with those observed in adults, except for laboratory abnormalities of hyperbilirubinemia (Grade 3/4: 13%)-a condition where there is too much bilirubin in the blood-and transaminase elevation (AST Grade 3/4: 1%, ALT Grade 3/4: 9%), which were reported at a higher frequency than in adult patients. One resistant or intolerant pediatric CML patient progressed to advance phase/blast crisis (AP/BC) after about 10 months on treatment.

Novartis' ongoing research in Ph+ CML has helped transform the disease from a fatal leukemia to a chronic condition in most patients. The company maintains an unwavering commitment to scientific innovation and access to care for patients worldwide. As an organization committed to patients, Novartis continues to reimagine CML by pursuing ambitious goals with courage, passion and commitment for the global CML community.

Tasigna (nilotinib) is approved in more than 122 countries for the treatment of chronic phase and accelerated phase Philadelphia chromosome-positive chronic myelogenous leukemia (Ph+ CML) in adult patients resistant or intolerant to at least one prior therapy, including Glivec (imatinib), and in more than 110 countries for the treatment of adult patients with newly diagnosed Ph+ CML in chronic phase. Tasigna is approved in the United States (US) for the treatment of Ph+ CML in the chronic phase in pediatric patients one year of age or older with resistance or intolerance to prior therapy including imatinib and for the treatment of pediatric patients one year of age or older with newly diagnosed Ph+ CML in the chronic phase. Tasigna is also approved in the European Union (EU) for the treatment of Ph+ CML in the chronic phase in pediatric patients with resistance or intolerance to prior therapy including imatinib and for the treatment of pediatric patients with newly diagnosed Ph+ CML in the chronic phase.


FDA Announces Mobile App - Agency says advancing mobile apps that inform people about their health and medical choices represents a significant public health opportunity and a high priority for the FDA.

The U.S. FDA announced the availability of the Drugs@FDA Express mobile application, enabling the public to search for information about FDA-approved brand and generic prescription and over-the-counter human drugs and biological therapeutic products.
The FDA currently operates the Drugs@FDA webpage, which includes information about drug products approved by the agency, including patient information, drug labeling, approval letters, reviews and other information.
The Drugs@FDA Express mobile app is a streamlined version of Drugs@FDA, allowing users to search on their mobile devices for certain product information based on product name, active ingredient or application number using a single search box. Some information (like labeling supplements and approval letters) won’t be available on the app, but can be found on the Drugs@FDA webpage.
The app will also feature the most recent product approvals, within seven days, links to the Drugs@FDA glossary and frequently asked questions. It will also provide contact information for the FDA’s consumer information office, the Division of Drug Information.
This free mobile app can be downloaded via iTunes (for Apple devices) and the Google Playstore (for Android devices).
“Consumers are embracing digital health technologies to inform everyday decisions. From fitness trackers to mobile applications tracking insulin administration, these digital tools can empower consumers with a wealth of valuable health information. Advancing mobile apps that inform people about their health and medical choices represents a significant public health opportunity and is a high priority for the FDA,” says FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D.


This Wiggly Fish Is the Most Advanced Robot of Its Kind - The device could help biologists monitor marine animals without disturbing them.

Recently, a robotic impostor swam through the crystal blue waters off Fiji, blending in with the fish teeming around the coral reefs. Unlike the Cylons in Battlestar Galactica, however, this infiltrator was on a peaceful mission.
In a new study published in Science Robotics, researchers at MIT unveil what they say is the most advanced robotic fish of its kind ever built. Armed with a camera and a lifelike wiggle, the device could one day help biologists monitor the health of marine habitats without stressing out their aquatic denizens.
The Soft Robotic Fish, SoFi for short, is 18.5 inches long from snout to tail and weighs about 3.5 pounds. It can dive 60 feet underwater and is powered by enough juice for about 40 minutes of exploration.


As climate change and overfishing wreak havoc on oceans, scientists are racing to study marine life in detail. But scuba-diving humans don't exactly blend in, which can make it hard to watch some animals up-close. SoFi could act as marine biologists' unobtrusive eyes and ears.
“When we were designing the robot, we tried to make sure that it's moving to conserve the life we're trying to observe,” says co-author Joseph DelPreto.


To build better aquatic robots, researchers have mimicked tuna, jellyfish, and lobsters, and they've also built robots out of pliable materials, such as the squishy “octobot.”
“There will be a revolution in some fields with soft robots,” says SoFi's co-creator Robert Katzschmann, a Ph.D. candidate at MIT's Computer Science & Artificial Intelligence Lab. “It may be for underwater locomotion, but also walking robots or grasping robots. This whole field will see changes.”
Since 2014, MIT roboticist Daniela Rus and her students, including Katzschmann and DelPreto, have built various prototypes of robotic fish. But these early versions of SoFi couldn't be controlled remotely, nor could they withstand dives more than three feet underwater.
Now, Katzschmann and his colleagues have ruggedized SoFi and reinvented its buoyancy control system. They also gave SoFi a remote control, letting a scuba diver drive it from up to 50 feet away. To work in water, the system uses pulses of ultrasound to communicate. It's controlled by a waterproofed retro gamepad that DelPreto designed.


So far, SoFi's disguise might be working. During the recent test dives around Fiji, reef fish swam within inches of SoFi without being obviously spooked. For now, the robot interloper recorded only video, but its creators envision adding other sensors, such as thermometers.
Future versions of SoFi will also improve the fish's swimming and vision, and its creators say they're sketching out plans for SoFi “swarms”: schools of artificial fish set loose to monitor ocean health, perhaps recharged by solar-cell platforms floating on the water's surface.


Friday, March 23, 2018

A wearable system to monitor the stomach's activity throughout the day

A team of researchers has developed a wearable, non-invasive system to monitor electrical activity in the stomach over 24 hours—essentially an electrocardiogram but for the gastro-intestinal (GI) tract.
Applications include monitoring GI activity for patients outside of a clinical setting, which cuts down costs. Monitoring for longer periods of time also increases the likelihood of capturing abnormal events.
Researchers detail their findings in the March 22 issue of Nature's open access journal Scientific Reports.

The team tested the device, a 3D printed portable box connected to 10 small wearable electrodes, on 11 children and one adult volunteer. They found that data collected with the wearable system were comparable to data collected in the clinic with state-of-the-art methods, which are invasive—including a catheter inserted through the patient's nose. They also found that the stomach's electrical activitychanges not only around meals, but also during sleep, following its own circadian rhythm.
"We think our system will spark a new kind of medicine, where a gastroenterologist can quickly see where and when a part of the GI tract is showing abnormal rhythms and as a result make more accurate, faster and personalized diagnoses," said Armen Gharibans, the paper's first author and a bioengineering postdoctoral researcher at the University of California San Diego.
Todd Coleman, the paper's corresponding author and a UC San Diego professor of bioengineering, agrees.
"This work opens the door accurately monitoring the dynamic activity of the GI system," he said. "Until now, it was quite challenging to accurately measure the electrical patterns of stomach activity in a continuous manner, outside of a clinical setting. From now on, we will be able to observe patterns and analyze them in both healthy and unwell people as they go about their daily lives."
Physicians involved with the study say the device meets an unmet clinical need.
"This will help us determine if the stomach is functioning properly during meals and - most importantly - when patients are experiencing symptoms such as nausea and belly pain," said Dr. David Kunkel, one of the paper's co-authors and a gastroenterologist at UC San Diego Health.
The breakthrough was made possible because engineers and physicians came together to work on the problem, said Benjamin Smarr, one of the paper's co-authors and a chronobiologist at UC Berkeley.

Better algorithms
The researchers' biggest challenge was designing algorithms that recognize and boost the stomach's electrical signals amid noise and artifacts. This is especially difficult to do because the stomach's electrical signals are 10 times weaker than the heart's, making them harder to capture and analyze.
Researchers harnessed the signal processing expertise in Coleman's research group to develop a sophisticated algorithmic pipeline that can clean up the data and separate out abdominal muscle activity (for example when a person walks), heart beats and gastric activity, into different bands of signals that do not overlap. As a result, clinicians can examine each signal individually and compare it to others.

The device and testing
The device itself uses off-the-shelf electrodes used in electrocardiograms. The electronics and battery are encased in a 3D printed box and connected to the electrodes, which fit on a person's abdomen just over the stomach.
The researchers worked with Dr. Hayat Mousa and tested the device on 11 pediatric patients at Rady Children's Hospital in San Diego. These patients had been undergoing an invasive procedure called manometry, one of a couple clinical gold standards for objectively monitoring GI tract activity. The procedure requires using a catheter inserted through the nose to measure pressure at several points inside the stomach. Comparing the two methods showed that data collected by the wearable device was robust and reliable.
"I have been practicing pediatric gastroenterology and taking care of patients for 20 years," Dr. Mousa said. "The only method to assess gastrointestinal motility involves placing motility catheters in the GI tracts while kids are sedated or under general anesthesia. It has been a long journey discussing the benefits of doing such an invasive procedure with my patients and their families. My challenge has always been finding a test that offers a non-invasive assessment of the enteric nervous system and its connection with brain function."

"The technique outlined in this paper is the best way to evaluate children with motility and functional GI disorders," Dr. Mousa added. "It provides the information without need for sedation and it offers the flexibility to monitor kids while they continue their daily activities. This procedure allows convenience without compromising accuracy. In addition, it offers the option to assess the brain-gut response to therapeutic interventions including biofeedback and neuromodulation."
The system is currently paired with a smart phone app that allows patients to log their meals, sleep and other activities. The long-term goal is to design an app that would allow patients and physicians to see the data collected by the device in real time.
"This is analogous to going from switchboard operators straight to smart phones for gastroenterology," Smarr said.


'Body on a chip' could improve drug evaluation - Human tissue samples linked by microfluidic channels replicate interactions of multiple organs

MIT engineers have developed new technology that could be used to evaluate new drugs and detect possible side effects before the drugs are tested in humans. Using a microfluidic platform that connects engineered tissues from up to 10 organs, the researchers can accurately replicate human organ interactions for weeks at a time, allowing them to measure the effects of drugs on different parts of the body.
Such a system could reveal, for example, whether a drug that is intended to treat one organ will have adverse effects on another.
"Some of these effects are really hard to predict from animal models because the situations that lead to them are idiosyncratic," says Linda Griffith, the School of Engineering Professor of Teaching Innovation, a professor of biological engineering and mechanical engineering, and one of the senior authors of the study. "With our chip, you can distribute a drug and then look for the effects on other tissues and measure the exposure and how it is metabolized."
These chips could also be used to evaluate antibody drugs and other immunotherapies, which are difficult to test thoroughly in animals because they are designed to interact with the human immune system.
David Trumper, an MIT professor of mechanical engineering, and Murat Cirit, a research scientist in the Department of Biological Engineering, are also senior authors of the paper, which appears in the journal Scientific Reports. The paper's lead authors are former MIT postdocs Collin Edington and Wen Li Kelly Chen.
Modeling organs
When developing a new drug, researchers identify drug targets based on what they know about the biology of the disease, and then create compounds that affect those targets. Preclinical testing in animals can offer information about a drug's safety and effectiveness before human testing begins, but those tests may not reveal potential side effects, Griffith says. Furthermore, drugs that work in animals often fail in human trials.
"Animals do not represent people in all the facets that you need to develop drugs and understand disease," Griffith says. "That is becoming more and more apparent as we look across all kinds of drugs."
Complications can also arise due to variability among individual patients, including their genetic background, environmental influences, lifestyles, and other drugs they may be taking. "A lot of the time you don't see problems with a drug, particularly something that might be widely prescribed, until it goes on the market," Griffith says.
As part of a project spearheaded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), Griffith and her colleagues decided to pursue a technology that they call a "physiome on a chip," which they believe could offer a way to model potential drug effects more accurately and rapidly. To achieve this, the researchers needed new equipment -- a platform that would allow tissues to grow and interact with each other -- as well as engineered tissue that would accurately mimic the functions of human organs.
Before this project was launched, no one had succeeded in connecting more than a few different tissue types on a platform. Furthermore, most researchers working on this kind of chip were working with closed microfluidic systems, which allow fluid to flow in and out but do not offer an easy way to manipulate what is happening inside the chip. These systems also require external pumps.
The MIT team decided to create an open system, which essentially removes the lid and makes it easier to manipulate the system and remove samples for analysis. Their system, adapted from technology they previously developed and commercialized through U.K.-based CN BioInnovations, also incorporates several on-board pumps that can control the flow of liquid between the "organs," replicating the circulation of blood, immune cells, and proteins through the human body. The pumps also allow larger engineered tissues, for example tumors within an organ, to be evaluated.
Complex interactions
The researchers created several versions of their chip, linking up to 10 organ types: liver, lung, gut, endometrium, brain, heart, pancreas, kidney, skin, and skeletal muscle. Each "organ" consists of clusters of 1 million to 2 million cells. These tissues don't replicate the entire organ, but they do perform many of its important functions. Significantly, most of the tissues come directly from patient samples rather than from cell lines that have been developed for lab use. These so-called "primary cells" are more difficult to work with but offer a more representative model of organ function, Griffith says.
Using this system, the researchers showed that they could deliver a drug to the gastrointestinal tissue, mimicking oral ingestion of a drug, and then observe as the drug was transported to other tissues and metabolized. They could measure where the drugs went, the effects of the drugs on different tissues, and how the drugs were broken down. In a related publication, the researchers modeled how drugs can cause unexpected stress on the liver by making the gastrointestinal tract "leaky," allowing bacteria to enter the bloodstream and produce inflammation in the liver.
Griffith believes that the most immediate applications for this technology involve modeling two to four organs. Her lab is now developing a model system for Parkinson's disease that includes brain, liver, and gastrointestinal tissue, which she plans to use to investigate the hypothesis that bacteria found in the gut can influence the development of Parkinson's disease.
Other applications include modeling tumors that metastasize to other parts of the body, she says.
"An advantage of our platform is that we can scale it up or down and accommodate a lot of different configurations," Griffith says. "I think the field is going to go through a transition where we start to get more information out of a three-organ or four-organ system, and it will start to become cost-competitive because the information you're getting is so much more valuable."


MVJ College of Engineering students design an attendance tracking system

Taking attendance in schools and colleges and managing the records is often a time-consuming affair. If a class has a strength of 40 to 50 students it might not be an issue to complete the attendance within 5 minutes, but what if the class has 100 students! The teacher may waste a lot of time in taking attendance itself.
Now to fix this, the students of  MVJ College of Engineering have designed a Bluetooth based attendance tracking system called BT Proxy that helps in tracking the student’s attendance mandate.
As students walk into the classroom, the teacher will open an application on his or her smartphone and activate the ‘scan’ button. The app will show a message stating “discovery started”, and will detect all the signals sent out by identity card chips, which have been linked to a University Serial Number.
The low energy Bluetooth modules will be implanted inside the ID card of every student. This module is very small compared to regular Bluetooth module. It also consumes very less power. Each module is powered up by a button battery and can last up to a year. Each module will be given a unique ID, and the ID can only be set/reset by the administrator.
Every class will have an atmega32 module, HC05, Bluetooth module, and a WIFI module. An RTC module will keep track of the time. Class periods, break etc. can be set as required. Once a class starts the module automatically scans for all the Bluetooth IDs and passes on the data to the attendance monitoring application or any other required destination. There won’t be interference with IDs as each id has a unique code.
With such solutions implemented in schools and colleges, the time consumed in taking attendance can be eliminated.


Thursday, March 22, 2018

China to build 'world's fastest' wind tunnel

China has announced it is building the world's fastest wind tunnel to develop a new generation of super-fast airplanes, but it could also be used for hypersonic missile technology.
Wind tunnels test how air will pass over a solid object, helping designers improve aerodynamics or reduce stress points for objects as they reach high speeds.
State-run Xinhua news agency ran a report late Monday revealing the development of what it said would be "the world's fastest hypersonic wind tunnel".
"The 265-meter-long tunnel can be used to test hypersonic aircraft that can travel at speeds of up to Mach 25 (30,625 kph), 25 times the speed of sound," Han Guilai, a researcher with China's State Key Laboratory of High Temperature Gas Dynamics at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, was quoted as saying.
To compare, the current fastest generation of fighter jets can travel up to speeds of around 2.5 Mach.
The revelation comes as the world's leading military nations embark on a race to develop the next generation of hypersonic weapons, from missiles and spy planes to railguns, that can beat conventional defence systems.
Earlier this month Russia's president Vladimir Putin boasted his nation had developed a new generation of "invincible" hypersonic missiles in his state of the nation address, sparking anger in the United States and other NATO countries.
While experts are deeply sceptical about how close to operational such a missile might actually be, US officials in recent weeks have sounded growing alarm about the potential threat from hypersonic weapons—defined as weapons that can travel at five times the speed of sound or more.
Such weapons can beat regular anti-missile defences as they are designed to switch direction in flight and do not follow a predictable arc like conventional missiles, making them much harder to track and intercept.
According to reports in the Japan-based Diplomat magazine, China has also developed—and last year tested—a new type of hypersonic missile called the DF-17.
Though the Pentagon is warning about hypersonics, the United States has itself been developing the technology for years.
The Air Force says its X-51A Waverider cruise missile, tested in 2012, could travel at speeds faster than Mach 6 (3,600 miles per hour, 5,800 kph).
The Xinhua report said the Chinese Academy of Sciences had already simulated a hypersonic plane flight in its current wind tunnel at speeds "ranging from Mach 5 and 9".
"The new tunnel will aid the engineering application of hypersonic technology by duplicating the environment of extreme hypersonic flights. Once issues are discovered during these ground tests, they will be ironed out before test flights begin," Han was quoted as saying.


Pipe-crawling robot will help decommission DOE nuclear facility - Radiation-measuring robots go where humans cannot

A pair of autonomous robots developed by Carnegie Mellon University's Robotics Institute will soon be driving through miles of pipes at the U.S. Department of Energy's former uranium enrichment plant in Piketon, Ohio, to identify uranium deposits on pipe walls.
The CMU robot has demonstrated it can measure radiation levels more accurately from inside the pipe than is possible with external techniques. In addition to savings in labor costs, its use significantly reduces hazards to workers who otherwise must perform external measurements by hand, garbed in protective gear and using lifts or scaffolding to reach elevated pipes.
DOE officials estimate the robots could save tens of millions of dollars in completing the characterization of uranium deposits at the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant in Piketon, and save perhaps $50 million at a similar uranium enrichment plant in Paducah, Kentucky.
"This will transform the way measurements of uranium deposits are made from now on," predicted William "Red" Whittaker, robotics professor and director of the Field Robotics Center.
Heather Jones, senior project scientist will present two technical papers about the robot on Wednesday at the Waste Management Conference in Phoenix, Arizona. CMU also will be demonstrating a prototype of the robot during the conference.
CMU is building two of the robots, called RadPiper, and will deliver the production prototype units to DOE's sprawling 3,778-acre Portsmouth site in May. RadPiper employs a new "disc-collimated" radiation sensor invented at CMU. The CMU team, led by Whittaker, began the project last year. The team worked closely with DOE and Fluor-BWXT Portsmouth, the decommissioning contractor, to build a prototype on a tight schedule and test it at Portsmouth last fall.
Shuttered since 2000, the plant began operations in 1954 and produced enriched uranium, including weapons-grade uranium. With 10.6 million square feet of floor space, it is DOE's largest facility under roof, with three large buildings containing enrichment process equipment that span the size of 158 football fields. The process buildings contain more than 75 miles of process pipe.
Finding the uranium deposits, necessary before DOE decontaminates, decommissions and demolishes the facility, is a herculean task. In the first process building, human crews over the past three years have performed more than 1.4 million measurements of process piping and components manually and are close to declaring the building "cold and dark."
"With more than 15 miles of piping to be characterized in the next process building, there is a need to seek a smarter method," said Rodrigo V. Rimando, Jr., director of technology development for DOE's Office of Environmental Management. "We anticipate a labor savings on the order of an eight-to-one ratio for the piping accomplished by RadPiper." Even with RadPiper, nuclear deposits must be identified manually in some components.
RadPiper will operate initially in pipes measuring 30 inches and 42 inches in diameter and will characterize radiation levels in each foot-long segment of pipe. Those segments with potentially hazardous amounts of uranium-235, the fissile isotope of uranium used in nuclear reactors and weapons, will be removed and decontaminated. The vast majority of the plant's piping will remain in place and will be demolished safely along with the rest of the facility.
The tetherless robot moves through the pipe at a steady pace atop a pair of flexible tracks. Though the pipe is in straight sections, the autonomous robot is equipped with a lidar and a fisheye camera to detect obstructions ahead, such as closed valves, Jones said. After completing a run of pipe, the robot automatically returns to its launch point. Integrated data analysis and report generation frees nuclear analysts from time-consuming calculations and makes reports available the same day.
The robot's disc-collimated sensing instrument uses a standard sodium iodide sensor to count gamma rays. The sensor is positioned between two large lead discs. The lead discs block gamma rays from uranium deposits that lie beyond the one-foot section of pipe that is being characterized at any given time. Whittaker said CMU is seeking a patent on the instrument.
The Robotics Institute and Whittaker have extensive experience with robots in nuclear facilities, including the design and construction of robots to aid with the cleanup of the damaged Three Mile Island reactor building in Pennsylvania and the crippled Chernobyl reactor in Ukraine.
DOE has paid CMU $1.4 million to develop the robots as part of what CMU calls the Pipe Crawling Activity Measurement System.
In addition to the Portsmouth and Paducah plants, robots could be useful elsewhere in DOE's defense nuclear cleanup program, which is not even half complete, Rimando said. Other sites where robots might be used are the Savannah River Site in Aiken, South Carolina, and the Hanford Site in Richland, Washington.
"With at least 50 more years of nuclear cleanup to be performed, the Robotics Institute could serve as a major pipeline of roboticists for DOE's next several workforce generations," he added.