The design of a novel MEMS (Micro-Electro-Mechanical System) sensor-based monitoring system is presented in this article for the in-situ monitoring of the conditions (temperature, relative humidity) of an engineered bentonite barrier for the underground disposal of radioactive waste in a geological disposal facility (GDF). A first prototype of the monitoring system incorporating multiple state-of-the-art MEMS sensors has been developed on a PCB-based (Printed Circuit Board) structure, in order to measure the variation of temperature and relative humidity inside a cylindrical bentonite block during the hydration process. The monitoring system comprises of separate sensor boards, the microcontroller-equipped interface board, and the software user interface in Labview environment. One of the main design priorities is to reduce the size of the embedded sensors in order to minimize their influence on the hydro-mechanical response of the bentonite block. The sensor boards are encapsulated in different manners to protect them from moisture, chemical corrosion and mechanical shocks. The sensor system has been tested and calibrated in the temperature range between -20°C and 120°C, and at different relative humidity levels implemented by saturated salt solutions in enclosed containers. Test results demonstrate that the sensors have shown good functionality and robustness in harsh test environments such as high temperature and high humidity. Both temperature and relative humidity sensors have shown satisfactory precision level and temporal stability, which are in good accordance with the design specification of these devices.
- micro-electro-mechanical system
- geological disposal