EMPIR radon metrology research leads to licence agreement

Concept of radon molecules coming from the ground

In May 2023 a License Agreement for an atmospheric radon monitor was signed between the company Radonova and the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya

The project

Radon is a radioactive element that is naturally found in trace amounts in the atmosphere and is almost evenly emitted as a gas from ice-free land. It is vital that radon activity concentration is observed to ensure the radioactive exposure of the public is minimised. Additionally, the unique characteristics of radon make it a useful tracer to indirectly quantify the greenhouse gases (GHGs) fluxes - which helps with the improvement of GHG inventories.

EMPIR project Radon metrology for use in climate change observation and radiation protection at the environmental level (19ENV01, traceRadon) has developed traceable methods of quantifying outdoor radon activity concentrations and radon fluxes.

New radon sources and two transfer standards instruments were developed in order to build a robust metrology for atmospheric radon measurements.

As part of the project a new transfer standard, the Atmospheric Radon MONitor (ARMON), was developed at the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC), Spain. This standard allows the measurement of radon and thoron activity concentration in the atmosphere thanks to the electrostatic collection of positive ions of radon decay products 218Po and 216Po and the resulting analysis of their alpha decay spectra.

A new version of the ARMON was initially developed and tested in the framework of the Catalan industrial innovation project MAR 2 EA (AGAUR, Reference: 2019 LLAV 00035) for incrementing its Technology Readiness Levels (TRL) from 2 to 6. Then, thanks to the EMPIR project traceRadon, the new prototype of the ARMON v2.0 was made robust, user-friendly and remotely controllable. Additionally, it was calibrated and compared with radon monitors in Spain, France and Germany stations. These actions together allow the increase in the TRL of the product from 6 to 9.

Licence agreement

In May, 2023 a License Agreement was signed between the company Radonova (Licensee) and the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (Licensor) for the transfer of the know-how of the ARMON monitor and its commercialisation plan. The inventors of the ARMON are Arturo Vargas, Claudia Grossi and Roger Curcoll, who are all active in the traceRadon project consortium.

Claudia Grossi from the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya and work package leader of traceRadon, said

’This agreement between the UPC and Radonova company will help to make a huge step forward to implement dense atmospheric radon measurements networks worldwide. Currently there is a lack of commercially available atmospheric radon monitors. In addition, the sensitivity and robustness of the ARMON makes it also useful as a reference system of radon calibration facilities.’

Jose Luis Gutierrez Villanueva from Radonova responded

‘We are happy to receive support from EURAMET. EURAMET is the Reference in Europe regarding metrology, and top-level metrology research is carried out in their research programmes. The new instrument ARMON allows Radonova to reach the scientific community working with atmospheric and climate change. Therefore, Radonova increases its portfolio to fulfil the measurement demands of this group of researchers and adds to Radonova’s commitment to help with climate change research.’

Dag Sedin (Radonova), senior advisor and the product manager of ARMON, explained further

‘I am looking forward to continuing to develop and improve this unique product so we can keep our position as the leading supplier of radon instruments for measuring trace levels of radon in the atmosphere. The fact that radon is a noble gas creates a unique possibility for following the world-wide distribution of GHG and other hazardous gases.’

This EMPIR project is co-funded by the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme and the EMPIR Participating States

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