Patents by Inventor Michael D. Heibel

Michael D. Heibel has filed for patents to protect the following inventions. This listing includes patent applications that are pending as well as patents that have already been granted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

  • Publication number: 20210366626
    Abstract: A system for measuring radiation activity of a target radioisotope being produced in a reactor core is disclosed. The system includes a cable assembly and a radiation detector. The cable assembly includes a housing, a target cable configured to position the housing, and a drive cable couplable and decouplable with the target cable. The target radioisotope is positioned within the housing. The drive cable is configured to drive the target cable. The radiation detector configured to periodically measure the radiation activity of the target radioisotope being produced.
    Type: Application
    Filed: May 19, 2020
    Publication date: November 25, 2021
    Applicant: Westinghouse Electric Company LLC
    Inventors: Michael D. HEIBEL, Michael C. PRIBLE
  • Patent number: 11179464
    Abstract: Systems and methods including a material that emits high energy beta particles to destroy cancer cells contained in cancerous tumor or tissue. Electronic neutron generators produce neutrons with energies that have a high probability to interact with the material yttrium-89 to produce yttrium-90. Yttrium-90 emits beta radiation with a maximum energy of about 2.25 MeV and a half-life of about 64 hours, which decays to stable zirconium. Stable yttrium-89 can be directly placed in or around cancerous tissue and irradiated with neutrons in the 0.1-15 KeV energy range to produce significant amounts of yttrium-90. The beta radiation emitted by yttrium-90 will primarily destroy the more radiation sensitive cancer cells within the range of the beta particles. The resulting zirconium isotope is not radioactive such that no further radiation is released. A low probability gamma is also created that will assist in cancer cell destruction.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: February 13, 2019
    Date of Patent: November 23, 2021
    Assignee: Westinghouse Electric Company LLC
    Inventor: Michael D. Heibel
  • Patent number: 11170903
    Abstract: A method for detecting a leak in a cladding tube in a nuclear reactor is described. The method is well-suited for use in a reactor having a plurality of cladding tubes housed in a plurality of linearly arranged channels for flowing coolant past the cladding tubes. The method includes monitoring the channels for the occurrence of an increase in radiation above a selected base line indicative of the presence of at least one fission product in the coolant in at least one of the plurality of channels, and monitoring the channels for the occurrence of time dependent changes in the strength of radiation in the coolant above the base line along the length of the at least one of the plurality of channels. The leak location is calculated by triangulating the radiation readings from a fixed linear array of detectors positioned adjacent to the channels to determine the location of the strongest radiation reading and the location along the length of the channel where the increase in radiation occurred.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: June 12, 2019
    Date of Patent: November 9, 2021
    Assignee: Westinghouse Electric Company LLC
    Inventors: Michael D. Heibel, Jeffrey L. Arndt
  • Publication number: 20210287824
    Abstract: A device that will enable material to be irradiated as needed to produce a desired transmutation product inside the core of a nuclear reactor. The device provides a means for monitoring neutron flux in the vicinity of the material being irradiated to allow determination of the amount of transmutation product being produced. The device enables the irradiated material to be inserted into the reactor and held in place at desired axial positions and to be withdrawn from the reactor when desired without shutting down the reactor. The majority of the device may be re-used for subsequent irradiations. The device also enables the simple and rapid attachment of unirradiated target material to the portion of the device that transmits the motive force to insert and withdraw the target material into and out of the reactor and the rapid detachment or the irradiated material from the device for processing.
    Type: Application
    Filed: July 14, 2020
    Publication date: September 16, 2021
    Applicant: Westinghouse Electric Company LLC
    Inventors: Michael D. HEIBEL, Matthew D. MCARDLE
  • Patent number: 11094423
    Abstract: A method that provides a more direct indication of peak fuel rod centerline temperature and peak fuel rod clad temperature than conventionally inferred from the power distribution by directly and continuously measuring the fuel temperatures of the fuel pellets in one or more of the hottest fuel elements in the core. The peak fuel rod clad temperature is then obtained from the maximum measured peak fuel rod centerline temperature in combination with the maximum coolant core exit temperature and the minimum coolant flow rate.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: February 1, 2019
    Date of Patent: August 17, 2021
    Assignee: Westinghouse Electric Company LLC
    Inventors: Michael D. Heibel, Jorge V. Carvajal, Shawn C. Stafford, Jeffrey L. Arndt
  • Patent number: 11011280
    Abstract: A system that measures the temperature distribution of the reactor coolant flowing through the hot leg or cold leg pipes by measuring the speed of sound time delay. This concept uses radiation hardened and temperature tolerant ultrasonic signal drivers based on vacuum micro-electronic technology. The system employs ultrasonic signals propagated through water, and relies on the characteristic that the speed of sound changes as the density and temperature of the water changes. Thus, a measured difference in the speed of sound in water may be directly correlated to a temperature change of the water.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: March 10, 2016
    Date of Patent: May 18, 2021
    Assignee: Westinghouse Electric Company LLC
    Inventors: Jorge V. Carvajal, Michael D. Heibel, Nicola G. Arlia, Melissa M. Walter, Robert W. Flammang, Michael A. James, David M. Sumego
  • Publication number: 20210074440
    Abstract: A detection apparatus is a flow and temperature measuring device in the form of a tube having a channel positioned parallel to a coolant flow stream and contains a drogue that is firmly attached to a mount within the channel. The mount has a load detection apparatus firmly imbedded near the flow inlet to the tube. The drogue has at least neutral buoyancy in the fluid at the minimum fluid temperature of interest. A change in the buoyancy of the drogue as a function of temperature and a corresponding change in the strain detection apparatus output in the fluid is determined by a combination of simple physics and calibration measurements. The relationship between changes in strain detection apparatus signal output and flow-rate-induced forces applied to the drogue surface are also determined using a combination of simple physics and calibration measurements. A system and method are also described.
    Type: Application
    Filed: September 5, 2019
    Publication date: March 11, 2021
    Applicant: WESTINGHOUSE ELECTRIC COMPANY LLC
    Inventor: MICHAEL D. HEIBEL
  • Publication number: 20210050123
    Abstract: A method whereby signals that are output by replacement SPNDs are converted into equivalent signals that would have been detected by legacy SPNDs for input to the legacy software. The replacement SPNDs have a different geometry than the legacy SPNDs and also have a different neutron sensitivity than the legacy SPNDs. The replacement SPNDs are subjected to a neutron flux in a core of a reactor and responsively output a set of signals. The set of signals and the geometry of the replacement SPNDs are employed to create a characterization of the neutron flux in the form of a curve that represents flux as a function of location along the core of the reactor. The legacy geometry of the legacy SPNDs is then employed to find the values on the curve that correspond with the positions where the legacy SPNDs had been located to create inputs for the legacy software.
    Type: Application
    Filed: August 13, 2019
    Publication date: February 18, 2021
    Applicant: WESTINGHOUSE ELECTRIC COMPANY LLC
    Inventor: MICHAEL D. HEIBEL
  • Patent number: 10923242
    Abstract: A device and method that enables a specimen that is to be converted into a radioisotope to be inserted into an extended, retractable thimble of a nuclear reactor moveable in-core detector system and be harvested after irradiation either during reactor operation or a refueling outage without damaging the retractable thimble. The specimen is enclosed within the interior of a forward portion of a tubular member having a closed lead end and structured to travel within the retractable thimble. The tubular member is sized to extend from a position above and proximate the desired core elevation the specimen is to be irradiated at to a location above a seal table that the retractable thimble extends through. The specimen is inserted and withdrawn from the core by inserting or withdrawing the tubular member from above the seal table. Desirably, the forward end of the tubular member is divided into several specimen compartments.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: May 16, 2017
    Date of Patent: February 16, 2021
    Assignee: Westinghouse Electric Company LLC
    Inventor: Michael D. Heibel
  • Publication number: 20200395137
    Abstract: A method for detecting a leak in a cladding tube in a nuclear reactor is described. The method is well-suited for use in a reactor having a plurality of cladding tubes housed in a plurality of linearly arranged channels for flowing coolant past the cladding tubes. The method includes monitoring the channels for the occurrence of an increase in radiation above a selected base line indicative of the presence of at least one fission product in the coolant in at least one of the plurality of channels, and monitoring the channels for the occurrence of time dependent changes in the strength of radiation in the coolant above the base line along the length of the at least one of the plurality of channels. The leak location is calculated by triangulating the radiation readings from a fixed linear array of detectors positioned adjacent to the channels to determine the location of the strongest radiation reading and the location along the length of the channel where the increase in radiation occurred.
    Type: Application
    Filed: June 12, 2019
    Publication date: December 17, 2020
    Applicant: WESTINGHOUSE ELECTRIC COMPANY LLC
    Inventors: MICHAEL D. HEIBEL, JEFFREY L. ARNDT
  • Publication number: 20200365285
    Abstract: A subcritical reactivity monitor that utilizes one or more primarily gamma sensitive (prompt responding) self-powered detector style radiation measurement devices located within the core of a nuclear reactor to determine the amount that the reactor multiplication factor (Keff) is below the reactivity required to achieve or maintain a self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction. This invention utilizes measured changes in the self-powered detectors' current(s) to allow a reactor operator to measure the value of Keff at essentially any desired interval while the reactor is shutdown with a Keff value less than the critical value of 1.0. This invention will enable integration of the output of the value of Keff directly into the Reactor Protection System, which will enable the elimination of the operational and core design analysis constraint costs associated with the current Boron Dilution Accident prevention methodology and enable automatic control of the Chemical Volume Control System.
    Type: Application
    Filed: April 16, 2020
    Publication date: November 19, 2020
    Applicant: Westinghouse Electric Company LLC
    Inventor: Michael D. HEIBEL
  • Publication number: 20200335234
    Abstract: A method and a system for performing real-time, continuous, measurements of the boron concentration in the water entering a nuclear reactor coolant system. The invention utilizes knowledge of the impact that boron contained in liquid water has on the attenuation of acoustic or ultrasonic waves. This information, coupled with radiation damage resistant and high temperature operability capable transmitter and receiver equipment, provides the means to place the measurement system sensors and signal processing electronics on the reactor coolant system charging flow piping or the hot leg or cold leg of the reactor coolant loop. This will allow the reactor operator to directly monitor both the reactor coolant system boron concentration value and detect changes in the reactor coolant system boron concentration relative to a reference value as they occur.
    Type: Application
    Filed: April 6, 2020
    Publication date: October 22, 2020
    Applicant: Westinghouse Electric Company LLC
    Inventors: Michael D. HEIBEL, Jorge V. CARVAJAL, Nicola G. ARLIA, Melissa M. WALTER, Robert W. FLAMMANG, Michael A. JAMES, David M. SUMEGO
  • Patent number: 10755829
    Abstract: A device that will enable material to be irradiated as needed to produce a desired transmutation product inside the core of a nuclear reactor. The device provides a means for monitoring neutron flux in the vicinity of the material being irradiated to allow determination of the amount of transmutation product being produced. The device enables the irradiated material to be inserted into the reactor and held in place at desired axial positions and to be withdrawn from the reactor when desired without shutting down the reactor. The majority of the device may be re-used for subsequent irradiations. The device also enables the simple and rapid attachment of unirradiated target material to the portion of the device that transmits the motive force to insert and withdraw the target material into and out of the reactor and the rapid detachment of the irradiated material from the device for processing.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: July 14, 2016
    Date of Patent: August 25, 2020
    Assignee: Westinghouse Electric Company LLC
    Inventors: Michael D. Heibel, Matthew D. McArdle
  • Patent number: 10734125
    Abstract: A vacuum micro-electronics device that utilizes fissile material capable of using the existing neutron leakage from the fuel assemblies of a nuclear reactor to produce thermal energy to power the heater/cathode element of the vacuum micro-electronics device and a self-powered detector emitter to produce the voltage/current necessary to power the anode/plate terminal of the vacuum micro-electronics device.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: May 1, 2017
    Date of Patent: August 4, 2020
    Assignee: Westinghouse Electric Company LLC
    Inventors: Jorge V. Carvajal, Michael D. Heibel, Lyman J. Petrosky, Tim M. Crede, Robert W. Flammang
  • Patent number: 10720253
    Abstract: A method and apparatus for modifying an existing nuclear reactor moveable in-core detector system to insert and withdraw target specimens from a reactor core during reactor operation without practically impeding the moveable in-core detector system's ability to obtain flux maps of the core throughout the reactor's operation. The apparatus provides a separate drive unit and delivery cable that is independent of the detector drive system, but uses most of the same core delivery conduits to access the core. A specimen holder is remotely detachable from the delivery cable when appropriately positioned and can be remotely reattached for withdrawal after a scheduled period of radiation.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: October 11, 2017
    Date of Patent: July 21, 2020
    Assignee: Westinghouse Electric Company LLC
    Inventors: Michael D. Heibel, Luke D. Czerniak, Melissa M. Heagy, Jorge V. Carvajal, Matthew D. McArdle, Jeffrey J. Taylor, James L. Yankel
  • Patent number: 10714222
    Abstract: A method and apparatus for modifying an existing nuclear reactor moveable in-core detector system to insert and withdraw target specimens from a reactor core during reactor operation without practically impeding the moveable in-core detector system's ability to obtain flux maps of the core throughout the reactor's operation. The apparatus provides a separate drive unit and delivery cable that is independent of the detector drive system, but uses most of the same core delivery conduits to access the core. A specimen holder is remotely detachable from the delivery cable when appropriately positioned and can be remotely reattached for withdrawal after a scheduled period of radiation.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: February 3, 2020
    Date of Patent: July 14, 2020
    Assignee: Westinghouse Electric Company LLC
    Inventors: Michael D. Heibel, Luke D. Czerniak, Melissa M. Heagy, Jorge V. Carvajal, Matthew D. McArdle, Jeffrey J. Taylor, James L. Yankel
  • Publication number: 20200219630
    Abstract: A temperature measurement sensor for use in a nuclear reactor is described and includes a first neutron detector member and a second neutron detector member wherein the first neutron detector member outputs a first current signal and the second neutron detector member outputs a second current signal. An electrical connection between the first and second signals produces a net current that is the difference in current between the first and second signals. The difference is proportional to changes in temperature.
    Type: Application
    Filed: January 2, 2020
    Publication date: July 9, 2020
    Applicant: WESTINGHOUSE ELECTRIC COMPANY LLC
    Inventor: MICHAEL D. HEIBEL
  • Patent number: 10706977
    Abstract: Apparatus for amplifying low level signals within a nuclear plant's containment building, derived from the ex-core nuclear instrumentation system. The system employs vacuum micro-electronic devices in place of conventional pre-amplifier assemblies to position the pre-amplifier assemblies closer to and within the vicinity of the ex-core detector outputs.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: January 15, 2016
    Date of Patent: July 7, 2020
    Assignee: Westinghouse Electric Company LLC
    Inventors: Michael A. James, Jorge V. Carvajal, Michael D. Heibel, Nicola G. Arlia, Robert W. Flammang, David M. Sumego, Melissa M. Walter
  • Publication number: 20200188689
    Abstract: A process for treating highly localized carcinoma cells that provides precise positioning of a therapeutic source of highly ionizing but weakly penetrating radiation, which can be shaped so that it irradiates essentially only the volume of the tumor. The intensity and duration of the radiation produced by the source can be activated and deactivated by controlling the neutron flux generated by an array of electrically controlled neutron generators positioned outside the body being treated. The energy of the neutrons that interact with the source element can be adjusted to optimize the reaction rate of the ionized radiation production by utilizing neutron moderating material between the neutron generator array and the body. The source device may be left in place and reactivated as needed to ensure the tumor is eradicated without exposing the patient to any additional radiation between treatments. The source device may be removed once treatment is completed.
    Type: Application
    Filed: February 20, 2020
    Publication date: June 18, 2020
    Applicant: Westinghouse Electric Company LLC
    Inventors: John H. NELSON, Michael D. HEIBEL
  • Publication number: 20200176138
    Abstract: A method and apparatus for modifying an existing nuclear reactor moveable in-core detector system to insert and withdraw target specimens from a reactor core during reactor operation without practically impeding the moveable in-core detector system's ability to obtain flux maps of the core throughout the reactor's operation. The apparatus provides a separate drive unit and delivery cable that is independent of the detector drive system, but uses most of the same core delivery conduits to access the core. A specimen holder is remotely detachable from the delivery cable when appropriately positioned and can be remotely reattached for withdrawal after a scheduled period of radiation.
    Type: Application
    Filed: February 3, 2020
    Publication date: June 4, 2020
    Applicant: Westinghouse Electric Company LLC
    Inventors: Michael D. HEIBEL, Luke D. CZERNIAK, Melissa M. HEAGY, Jorge V. CARVAJAL, Matthew D. MCARDLE, Jeffrey J. TAYLOR, James L. YANKEL