Groundbreaking technology that could help the nuclear energy industry deal with major clean-up challenges was the showcase centrepiece of an event recently attended by Sellafield and National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL) staff.
On show was a small camera, remotely controlled by a mobile phone app. Moving along a track, it showed how areas currently very difficult to work in can be accessed.
The demonstration was the brainchild of the REACH project (reconfiguration remote access solution for inspection and characterisation of nuclear facilities). REACH has been designed in response to Sellafield’s call for technical solutions to aid Post Operational Clean Out (POCO), the final phase in a nuclear plant’s life before decommissioning.
It’s one of several projects facilitated by the Game Changers programme set up by Sellafield in its search for the best answer to decommissioning challenges.
The camera was carried along a track by a carriage, driven by motors controlled by the mobile phone app. The track fits through a 6inch diameter cell port and can be assembled easily in a confined space.
REACH, designed by Sheffield-based Eadon Consulting, demonstrates how a flexible tool kit of parts can be fitted together to help people tackle POCO in areas of cells currently very difficult, or even impossible, to access.
As well as cameras, the track and carriage could be used to transport other inspection, characterisation and handling tools. Still in the design stage, REACH may help significantly with a range of tasks including measurement of radiation levels, cleaning and cutting operations.
Sarah Wilson, Technical Manager at Sellafield said: “The deployment of monitoring and sampling devices can be challenging during POCO and decommissioning. This is due to highly congested plant areas with limited access points. REACH could provide an opportunity to deploy and retrieve cameras, radiometric devices and sampling equipment in difficult to access areas.”