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 has said "you're hired" to ten local newcomers who have started their careers at Dounreay this week. This makes it the 61st consecutive year that apprentices have joined the site.
An off the shelf CCTV camera is providing crystal clear images from the depths of Dounreay's Prototype Fast Reactor (PFR). Fifty years on from the construction of PFR, the reactor decommissioning team is viewing footage that will enable it to pull apart the innards of the second and last fast reactor to be built in the UK.
The last of the higher activity liquid waste produced during Dounreay Fast Reactor (DFR) fuel reprocessing has been made safe for future generations. It is an important milestone in the immobilisation of the historic liquid waste, known as raffinate, created from reprocessing undertaken during the operation of Dounreay's three reactors.
Ten new graduates started their careers at Dounreay this week as the company's graduate development programme entered its second year. Applications to the scheme soared after the success of last year's first ever graduate intake, with more than 200 applications received.
The destruction of one of the highest hazards remaining in the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) estate has been completed at Dounreay. Around 68 tonnes of highly radioactive liquid metal coolant was removed from the Dounreay Fast Reactor (DFR) and safely destroyed over a ten year period.
Dounreay held its annual supply chain event this week in the Merlin Cinema, Thurso, with suppliers attending from all over the UK. The site spent a total of £121 million on 306 contracts in 2014/15; with 102 contracts let for more than £50,000 and 5117 transactional purchases made for less than £3,000.
Thanks to the NDAs online Asset Transfer Scheme, Dounreay has acquired a third fire engine. The scheme enables redundant equipment to be re-used and recycled across NDAs estate.
A contractor working on the Shaft and Silo project has been recognised by the prestigious NDA estate Supply Chain Awards. Oxford Technologies Ltd (OTL) won the Ministers Award for their innovative idea to clean out the shaft stub tunnel.
Dounreay has reached a significant milestone following commissioning of the new supercompactor at the Waste Receipt Assay Characterisation and Supercompaction facility (WRACS). The facility has now crushed its 1000th drum of low level waste since the plant's re-start in July.
The latest batch of Dounreay's newly qualified skilled workers were encouraged to make the most of the exciting opportunities and challenges ahead. This year Dounreay's new recruits are the sixtieth group of apprentices in a long line of young people joining the site's highly respected apprenticeship scheme since 1955.
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