Entering a chemical plant after it has recycled hundreds of tonnes of highly radioactive nuclear fuel is not a job for the faint hearted. In fact, it’s not a job for a human at all. Radiation levels inside the giant reprocessing plants at Sellafield in Cumbria are too high for workers to enter safely, even after its post-operational clean-out. So the site’s operator asked industry for ideas to do the work remotely. Cavendish Nuclear is one of the companies to take up the challenge. The UK’s largest nuclear services business has a long history of working at Sellafield. It understands the radiological hazards and tightly-regulated working practices. It’s also a subsidiary of the global engineering services business Babcock International Group. This means it can leverage its reach across industry, to collaborate with other companies and adapt technology from other sectors with similar needs for remote, high-tech tooling. Working alongside Babcock, Cavendish Nuclear searched for the combination of tools and technology capable of being integrated with its own proven nuclear products and deployed in areas of high radiation. The outcome is the In-Cell Decommissioning System, or IDS. It consists of three key components from different industries: The Radscan™ spatial and radiometric scanning system developed by Cavendish Nuclear for remote mapping of contaminated plant. A virtual reality interface developed by Babcock International Ltd experts to process the data and enable operators to control the robot from anywhere in the world; A robotic snake-arm with laser-cutting tools originally developed by OC Robotics.
The Engineer 1st May 2019 read more »