Robots Will Take Dounreay's Dome Apart
20th November 2011
Like something out of the Tom Cruise movie War of the Worlds, the Kuka robot has a very important job to do.
The standard industrial robot, built exactly the same as a typical car assembly line robot, will play an integral part in the demolition process of Dounreay's iconic fast reactor.
Removal of the highly hazardous and radioactive breeder slugs is the next crucial step in decommissioning the fifty year old facility.
The robot does the job traditionally undertaken by operators using manipulators whilst working through heavily shielded lead glass windows. The working area is very high in radiation - too high for people to access, so the robot does the job safely and much quicker, lowering the radiological hazards, plus providing consistency and reliability in a highly controlled environment.
The giant orange robot, built by Kuka Robotics UK Ltd, manoeuvres on a static turntable and is pre-programmed to remove the lid of the 500 litre waste drums, swab around the surface checking for traces of radioactive contamination and clean the top of the Magnox flask which stores the drums.
It operates like a giant portable pincer arm and is controlled remotely to maintain a safe, clean and secure process within the breeder packaging plant.
Inactive commissioning will be complete by the end of the financial year ready for the breeder removal operation to begin in summer 2012.
Dounreay Site Restoration Limited has submitted a planning application to the Highland Council covering a series of decommissioning projects expected to take place between 2018 and the site's shut down, also known as the interim end state. The application, which is the last of three planning phases covering the overall decommissioning of the site, follows engagement undertaken earlier this year including public events and an opportunity to comment on draft documents online.
Drone technology is helping Dounreay reduce the risk of accidents and save money on its inspection of buildings. A camera mounted on an unmanned aerial vehicle is taking over tasks previously carried out by workers on elevated work platforms.
Work is underway to retrieve the last remaining radioactive fuel elements that have been stuck for decades inside the iconic Dounreay Fast Reactor (DFR). The experimental dome-shaped nuclear reactor once led the world in fast breeder technology and after it closed in 1977 most of the core fuel was removed.
Eleven young people who have completed their Dounreay apprentice training are "very much a part of the future of the far north." Guest speaker Jamie Stone MP told the audience at the apprentice indenture ceremony that took place last Friday that, as Dounreay continues to decommission, the newly indentured apprentices would be an important part of the area's ability to offer a skilled and innovative workforce. Dounreay Managing Director and former nuclear industry apprentice Phil Craig added: “I am very proud that we are celebrating yet another group of talented apprentices.
Companies are being invited to LINC together and support Scotland's largest decommissioning project thanks to an innovative new scheme designed to increase the number of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) delivering clean-up work at Dounreay. Up to five companies will be invited to help understand and develop the best proposal for size-reducing all of the machinery and components that will need to be removed from Dounreay's Prototype Fast Reactor (PFR) - the largest to be built at the Caithness site.
Graduates from as far afield as Portugal and London arrived in Caithness last week to kick start their career at Dounreay. Ten new recruits have started on the two-year graduate scheme with educational backgrounds as diverse as engineering, law and digital forensics and ethical hacking.
It is 60 years this weekend since the first criticality was achieved in Scotland using a test rig at Dounreay. Now the decommissioning team responsible for the site is marking that milestone by taking a major step towards demolishing the oldest reactor that remains at the former fast reactor research centre.
This film, produced by AEA Technology in 1994, looks back on the history of the fast reactor development programme at Dounreay..
Progress across Dounreay's decommissioning programme is being showcased in a new film and brochure highlighting the team's successes during 2016-17. Some of the highest hazards that remained in the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority estate, including liquid metal coolant from the Dounreay Fast Reactor, were reduced and destroyed during the year bringing to a successful conclusion projects that spanned many years.
The biggest networking event in Europe for nuclear decommissioning will be held in Manchester. 2 November 2017.
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