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Are There Any RFID Applications Within Ice Conditions?

Posted By RFID Journal, 10.29.2013

Does an RFID reader work under a thin layer of ice?

—Name withheld


There are not many examples of RFID being used under ice, but there are some examples of companies or organizations utilizing the technology within temperatures below zero.

In 2010, we wrote about researchers at the University of Southampton, in the United Kingdom, observing conditions within a glacier in the mountainous reaches of Iceland from their office in the United Kingdom, thanks to a prototype RFID sensor system that the group was testing. The wireless sensors system (dubbed Glacsweb) was intended to help the scientists track the behavior of glaciers as they melt and move over time, by measuring the ice sheets' motion, angle and temperature, and then transmitting that information to software that can be accessed via the Internet. The technology, custom-built by university researchers and installed two years ago on Iceland's Skalafellsjökull Glacier, included eight RFID sensors (see Sensors Probe for Data in Ice and Mud).

In addition, we have published a number of articles about businesses employing RFID to track ice cream (see Wells' Dairy Milks RFID for Benefits, Unilever Hungary Looks for Weak Links in Ice Cream's Cold Chain and Nestlé Italy Finds RFID Brings ROI for Ice Cream). And Beaver Street Fisheries, in 2005, was tracking shipments of frozen fish to Walmart (see Beaver Street Fisheries Catches RFID).

Generally speaking, tags can be read at temperatures below the freezing level, and readers can operate in such conditions as long as they are sealed within a protective case. Impinj's Speedway Revolution reader, for example, operates at –20 degrees Celsius (-4 degrees Fahrenheit), and Motorola's FX7400 fixed RFID reader also operates at that temperature.

It would be difficult to say whether RFID would work for your particular application without knowing what that application is.

—Mark Roberti, Founder and Editor, RFID Journal

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