This research investigates the implementation of battery-less RFID sensing platforms inside lossy media, such as, concrete and grout. Both concrete and novel grouts can be used for nuclear plant decommissioning as part of the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) cleanup projects. Our research examines the following: (1) material characterization, (2) analytical modeling of transmission and propagation losses inside lossy media, (3) maximum operational range of RFID wireless sensors embedded inside concrete and grout, and (4) best positioning of antennas for achieving longer communication range between RFID antennas and wireless sensors. Our research uses the battery-less Wireless Identification and Sensing Platform (WISP) which can be used to monitor temperature, and humidity inside complex materials.
By using a commercial Agilent open-ended coaxial probe (HP8570B), the measurements of the dielectric permittivity of concrete and grout are performed. Subsequently, the measured complex permittivity is used to formulate analytical Debye models. Also, the transmission and propagation losses of a uniform plane wave inside grout are calculated. Our results show that wireless sensors will perform better in concrete than grout. In addition, the maximum axial and radial ranges for WISP are experimentally determined. Our work illustrates the feasibility of battery-less wireless sensors that are embedded inside concrete and grout. Also, our work provides information that can be used to optimize the power management, sampling rate, and antenna design of such sensors.