In early to mid-October, together with the consortium of the DUBGEM project, Third Element Aviation was in Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan for two and a half weeks for an expedition to test the newly developed radioactive detection and mapping system.
The DUBGEM project was set up to develop UAV-based gamma spectrometry for the exploration and monitoring of former uranium mining sites. For this purpose, a consortium consisting of IAF – Radioökologie GmbH, the Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources (BGR), IAEA Vienna and various ministries of the participating countries Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan joined forces with 3EA. For more information on the DUBGEM project, please visit our blog (Drone-based exploration method for remediation of former uranium mining estates in Central Asia) or https://www.bmbf-client.de/en/projects/dubgem. DUBGEM is part of the funding initiative “International Partnerships for Sustainable Innovation (CLIENT II)”. In the DUBGEM research project, the German partners are funded by the BMBF with around 960000 euros.
After two years of joint research and development, the results have now been successfully tested and presented on site in Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan under partly extreme conditions such as strong winds and operating locations up to 2,800 metres above sea level. For this purpose, 3EA has developed a specific UAV, which is characterised by extremely robust flight behaviour even with a high payload of up to 8 kg – sufficient for the gamma spectrometer developed for this use case by a Dutch supplier. In addition, pilots from the participating (Central Asian) countries were trained to carry out flights with 3EA systems on their own. Thus, they can make an important long term contribution to the clean-up of uranium waste in the affected countries.
In addition to the successfully completed flights and measurements, the project’s success was measured above all by the enthusiasm of the Central Asian participants and the realisation that UAV-based gamma spectrometry was not only a more cost-effective alternative to helicopter missions, but also a real added value for the use in areas that are otherwise difficult to access.
3EA is now incorporating the findings and analyses of the test flights into the optimisation and finalisation of the newly developed system “Auriol” in order to be able to start series production. This is planned for 2022. Also another DUBGEM expedition to Central Asia is currently being discussed.
In addition to the breathtaking scenery, all participants were particularly impressed by the great hospitality with which they were received on site. Thank you very much!