Access solutions for Sellafield

By June 30, 2020Nuclear

Three companies who stepped up to a Sellafield challenge have been rewarded with funding to further develop their potential solutions to address one of the many decommissioning challenges faced by Sellafield.

One of the latest calls for innovation issued as part of the Game Changers Programme focused on remote working at height in hazardous areas.  It is hoped that the three successful projects awarded Proof of Concept funding will help Sellafield to decommission cells containing a complex network of vessels and pipework more safely, faster and at a reduced cost.

The projects are CellRail from Resolve Robotics, Modular Tube Deployment System (MTDS) by RMS and FIRMA Engineering’s Flexible Interchangeable Reconfigurable Mechanical Arm (FIRMArm).   Each will provide deployment solutions capable of accessing cells through a standard 150mm access port.

CellRail is a versatile modular deployment and retrieval system which will provide unlimited in-cell range. The system will be capable of accepting a variety of 3rd party end effectors which can be used for a range of tasks including cutting, material collection, characterisation and 3D modelling. CellRail will have the ability to deliver a payload to any position and orientation within the cell regardless of height, distance or obstructions.

MTDS allows safe, simple and effective access to hazardous areas using multiple modules.  Remotely connected, the modules form a continuous deployment path that can stay in place indefinitely. Once the path is complete, a tool can be deployed to perform specific tasks such as visual inspection, repair, sampling and vacuum extraction.

FIRMA Engineering’s FIRMArm project will involve the use of a flexible arm to carry multiple payloads to areas of interest inside cells.  The arm will be easily deployable and initial trials will involve the use of cleaning and collection end effectors capable of transferring and retrieving debris.  FIRMArm will be based on an innovative modular design which will enable the arm’s reach to be adjusted.  The arm has been designed to be extracted once the required work is complete.  It can then be reconfigured with different end effectors to be used in other areas.

All three companies will develop and trial their concepts over the next 12 months with support from the Game Changers team and Sellafield.

Sarah Wilson, Technical Manager at Sellafield said: “We’re excited to be working with FIRMA Engineering, RMS and Resolve Robotics.  The solutions they’re offering for our access challenge really appealed to our expert review panel.  Whilst each company is approaching the challenge in a different way, the projects all have the potential to provide new deployment and access systems which could be useful across the nuclear industry.”