Personal Continuous Air Monitor


Directions for Examples 1­5 :

Read the example and construct a coherent response based on the situation described below. Responses should be well-organized, accurate, and demonstrate mastery over course content. Use bullet points, charts, or other techniques to organize your answers in short clear responses.

No credit will be given for information unrelated to the subject area.

Example 1 – Personal Continuous Air Monitor

Patent No. 6,011,479

The radiation detection and measurement industry is a large field encompassing monitoring, measurement and safety aspects of radiation exposure. In the past, the radiation detection and measurement field was related mainly to the Department of Energy, including nuclear weapons production, fuel production, decontamination teams and nuclear power plants. This industry is currently in a state of change with the risk of radiation exposure growing due to the heightened risk of terrorism in the world today. The need for radiation detection and measurement has now expanded into the Emergency Responder teams and areas of the Department of Defense.

Los Alamos National Lab (LANL), a federal nuclear research lab, has developed a technology that is able to detect and measure airborne radioactive particulate in the personal breathing zone of the user. This product is called the Personal Continuous Air Monitor (PCAM) and has significant benefits over the existing Continuous Air Monitoring (CAM) product offerings.

The attributes of the PCAM have the potential to open up new opportunities in the radioactive particulate and Emergency Responder market places. Initial market probing has indicated that there is a strong interest in the PCAM technology since there is no existing CAM product that can be worn by the user or is able to monitor the radioactive worker’s personal breathing zone.

LANL owns the patent for the PCAM technology; therefore, the technology must be licensed from this federal lab if it is to be commercialized.

Certain countries in Europe have more stringent protection and safety requirements than the United States and use nuclear energy on a wider scale. Nuclear radiation detection and measurement is a global industry and there mightbe global opportunities for the PCAM. The International Plutonium industry and nuclear power plant technology areon the increase at about 5­8% per year. Although the grassroots fear of nuclear energy mightcontinue to challenge the growth of the nuclear energy industry, this fear may also benefit the recognition of the PCAM as a needed tool in all radiation related industries.

General Description and Important Technical Attributes

The Personal Continuous Air Monitor (PCAM) is a device that is capable of warning immediately of hazardous nuclear particles in the air. This device will allow people to monitor their own air space environment for airborne radioactivity. The PCAM is a battery-operated airborne particle monitor and recorder.  The PCAM has a filter/detector head that is worn near the breathing zone of a user, containing a filter mounted adjacent to radiation detectorsand a preamplifier.  The filter/detector head is connected to a belt pack to be worn at the waist or on the back of a user.  The belt pack contains a signal processor, batteries, a multi-channel analyzer, a logic circuit, and an alarm.  An air pump also is provided in the belt pack for pulling air through the filter/detector head by way of an air tube. The PCAM continuously samples the breathing zone of the user and alarms, almost instantly, if any of the predefined airborne radionuclides are detected. Once an incident is recorded, the sample filter can be analyzed to determine the user’s exposure level.

The PCAM senses radioactivity in the breathing zone of a user by using a filter capable of trapping radioactive particles with a radiation detector mounted adjacent to the filter. The radiation detector is capable of outputting electrical signals when radioactivity is present. A preamplifier is connected to the radiation detector for amplifying the output of the radiation detector. Electronic means receive the amplified output from the preamplifier for outputting a signal when a predetermined level of radioactivity has been exceeded. An air pump pneumatically draws ambient air through the filter.

Benefits of the Technology

  • LANL’s PCAM technology is unique because it is the only alpha particle radionuclide detector that is small, unobtrusive, and able to monitor the breathing zone of the user.
  • Because the PCAM is battery-operated, it can be carried on the user’s body as an independent unit. Current Continuous Air Monitors (CAMs) are difficult to use in areas that are small or have limited access whereit is particularly important to have the PCAM technology because airflow patterns in these areas are not well-defined.
  • The previously mentioned attributes of the PCAM have the potential to open up new opportunities in both the radioactive particulate and Emergency Responder market places. Currently, many groups represented by the previously mentioned market places maintain fixed CAM products.  There is no existing CAM product that can be worn by the user and is able to monitor the radioactive worker’s breathing zone.
  1. Susan Sprake

Project Leader

Industrial Business Development Office

P.O. Box 1663, Mail Stop C333

Los Alamos, NM 87545

(505) 665‑3613

FAX: (505) 665‑3125

Questions for Example 1

You are developing a market research plan for performing a Quicklook on the PCAM technology. List the types of primary and secondary sources you would target for research. For each of your targeted types of sources, identify and explain the goals of your research—types of information to gather or information goals of the interviews.


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