Intermediate water masses: KATERINA-ΙΙ
Deep water masses: KATERINA-Deep

HORST Ltd in collaboration with Hellenic Center for Marine Research (HCMR) the largest public marine research institute in Greece, constructs radioactivity detection systems for monitoring radionuclides of interest in aquatic systems that are affected from natural and anthropogenic processes. HORST Ltd provides into the market radioactivity detection systems of low resolution that can operate in the aquatic environment including the very deep water masses. The detection system operates in an autonomous and stand-alone mode as well as in real time mode for data transmission to the operational centre. The detection system may be integrated in floating measuring systems (e.g. buoys, fixed stations) and mobile platforms (e.g. AUVs, ROVs, Gliders, Argo floats, Research Vessels).

KATERINA II consists of a detector unit and a power unit shielded by an aluminium and polyester pressure tube while the KATERINA-Deep detection system is builded using special enclosure material according to the customer needs. The detector unit is a 2”x2” or 3”x3” or 5”x5” NaI detection crystal with built in photomultiplier tube, preamplifier, an analog-digital converter, a high voltage controller and electronic modules for standalone and sequential acquisition mode and data storage. The measuring system is calibrated for providing absolute data in Bq/m3 or Bq/l using a special tank filled with seawater or drinking water and reference sources that were diluted into the tank. The dimensions of the tank depend on the emission energies of the calibrated method. The detection system is simulated using existing codes to calculate the marine efficiency and the minimum detectable activity for specific measuring time for all emission energies.

The interesting bodies that they use and apply KATERINA II detection systems are involved for ecosystem studies and assessment as well as in submarine groundwater discharge and rainfall monitoring while those bodies that they use and apply KATERINA-Deep detection systems are involved mainly in research activities related to hydrothermal vents and hydrocarbons exploration as well as to study natural hazards (such as earthquakes and volcanic eruptions). A lot of effort is given the last years from many end-users to explore the seafloor for hydrothermal vents (through gas and flux rate estimation though radon progeny monitoring combined with potassium concentrations). Recently many deployments were implemented integrating the KATERINA-Deep detection system in a rosette of research vessels for studying various hydrothermal vents and mud volcanoes. The detection system was installed together with a CTD in order to provide data profile combined with temperature, salinity and dissolved oxygen. The system is known for many years and different set-up are implemented for marine compartments of all over the world (Mediterranean Sea, Baltic Sea, Black Sea, Kaspian Sea and other Seas in Asian countries).

Mapping and characterision of beach sands

The mapping of the beach sand may be performed using the in-situ method by the underwater gamma-ray spectrometer KATERINAII. The detection system is placed in various different distances (14, 40, 100cm) from the beach sand in order to investigate potential variation of the gross counting rate due to the distance.

The detection system is integrated in a mobile platform together with a mini computer for acquisition purposes. The details of the detection system and its specifications is describe above.

The system is applied first for mapping the gross counting rate for a beach sand area and then it can provide absolute data if the end-user gets samples for the laboratory.

The detection system is installed in a simplified mobile unit and it was adjusted to acquire using a time lag of 60 seconds (one spectrum every second). Additionally, the velocity of the mobile unit was adapted manually to 30m/60seconds (u=0.5m/s).

Sediment movement using NORMs as tracers

Sediments can act as both sinks and sources of radionuclides in the marine environment and they are used as major sink for many radionuclides. However, when the primary sources have been reduced drastically, remobilization of radionuclides may increase activities through diffusion processes from other areas. Land-sea interactions may add soluble species in surface run-off from terrestrial ecosystems. Two are the main sources of sediment to marine waters under episodic events: the transport of suspended sediments with flood waters and the transport of sediments due to the currents. In-situ gamma-ray spectroscopy is applied for estimating first the mean residence time of the sediment using natural radionuclides as tracers for the area of study. The data should be combined using core analysis for and key radionuclides (mainly gamma-ray emitters) for dating purposes.

The new enterprise will focus on the advancement of high – frequency (X-band) low power dual-polarization 4th generation weather radar systems for weather monitoring and hydrologic forecasting.

High-frequency/low-power polarimetric weather radars can constitute a low-cost solution to the problem of hydrologic forecasting for urban and small-scale flood-prone basins and coastal areas. These systems can be significantly inexpensive compared to the standard lower frequency (C-band and S-band) high-power operational radars, because they are designed to require smaller size dish and very low power signal source to attain the requisite resolution and signal measurement of precipitation. Overall, the cost reduction of the proposed radar system relative to existing operational radar units would be in the range of 5 to 10 times depending on the radar frequency.

The proposed weather radar system (Figure below) development could prove useful for:

  • developing small networks to provide in situ weather surveillance of small cities and flood prone areas not well covered by operational national radar networks,
  • specialized applications such as agriculture/watershed management and weather modification programs (e.g., hail depression programs) that require very high resolution precipitation data,
  • local deployment on small radar platforms (mobile or fixed tower) requiring low power consumption to facilitate specialized field observations over remote areas (such as mountains, tropical rainforests, developing countries, etc.). The system is intended to be fully autonomous in terms of power through combination of solar cells and wind generators.

The enterprise will advance this sensor technology in terms of (1) the design specifications and sensor characteristics that would maximize system performance at minimum fabrication cost, (2) signal processing techniques and retrieval algorithms aimed at optimizing the efficiency of the system to accurately measure precipitation parameters (snow, rain, hail) and through integration with models, predict land surface hydrologic variables (soil and vegetation moisture, surface and river runoff, etc.)

Ultimate goal is to advance uses of these sensors in weather and hydrologic forecasting, water resources management, and the validation of satellite earth observations, while making the whole radar system affordable for purchase by any government or private organization providing services in these fields.

This state-of-the-art technology seeks to address the emerging need for frequent sampling and prediction of spatio-temporal variations of environmental physical-biological and man-made parameters, and the continuous increasing noise trends in the Oceans, which occur at high frequency and spatial resolution and can induce extreme weather phenomena and natural hazards.

The generated physical or man-made sounds are often recognized by their spectral characteristics processes in the marine environment from the underwater sounds. These sounds are often identified and recorded from underwater recorders.

Our new advanced features of our system summarized below:

(a) in the design, development and implementation of an autonomous and low power consumption passive aquatic system (called PAL)

(b) our system utilizes an advanced intelligent real-time processing algorithm for the identification and classification of sound sources and subsequently quantify physical processes in real-time.

(c) the system is using new state-of-art technological solutions in order to implement a very low signal-to-noise ratio (SNR > 87 dB), low saturation signal (THD < – 92 dB) and very low power consumption (max 30 mW) microprocessor circuit used to maximize system efficiency.

(d) using new technological materials for the housing of the system

(e) the automated adaptive sampling real-time embedded software allows saving significant energy between acoustic sample. The technology can be incorporated into a standalone sensor instrument attached to existing platforms (e.g. Argo Floats, underwater acoustic modems, etc.)

In times where increased sensitivity towards environmental protection is a major debate, there seem to arise opportunities to fulfil needs for “special customers” such as Oceanographic Institutes, Marine Research Labs, Weather Services, Environmental Protection Agencies, Public & State Water Authorities, Aviation Agencies, the Navy and Air force, etc. as well as agencies with worldwide impact, such as Space Agencies in Europe (ESA), USA (NASA) and Japan (JAXA).

Our company, rather than its short period of operation, managed to win a contract with the Hellenic Center for Marine Research (HCMR), to design and develop a new generation of PAL systems for the needs of the European-fp7 PERSUS project and lately to develop new systems for the KAUST university in Saudi Arabia.

However, our scientific key personnel and external consultants of the company has involved in the past as partners in several research projects (funded by fp6/fp7, NSF, ESA, etc.) where the most relevant ones are the:

  • ISREX (2004-2005, National Science Foundation, USA): Our external collavDr. Jeffry Nystuen and Emmanuel Anagnostou proposed an innovative experiment to evaluate the inherent spatial averaging of the underwater acoustic signal from rainfall deployed in four different depths.
  • POSEIDON II (2005-2010, EFTA & Greek Ministry of National Economy): POSEIDON system is a unique planning tool in the endeavour for the protection of the marine environment. We collaborated with HCMR for the development of the software and hardware of two new generation PALs deployed in Poseidon network buoys.
  • Underwater Sound and Radon Measurements of Rainfall and Wind at Sea (2015): Demonstration, FixO3 Transnational Access (TNA) Proposal, research coordinator for HCMR: Dr. Ch. Tsabaris.

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