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Development of Inspection Tools for DST Primary Tanks

FIU’s Applied Research Center (ARC) is supporting the U.S. Department of Energy’s Hanford Site by developing robotic technologies for the evaluation of Tank 241-AY-102 and other similar tanks. 

Tank waste has recently been discovered in the annulus of AY-102. Inspection tools are needed to isolate and pinpoint the source of the material entering the annulus. These tools will need to provide video feedback so that an assessment can be made regarding the structural integrity of the tank bottoms.

There are three paths of access to the tank floor:

  1. through air channels in the tank refractory pad,
  2. through a 4-in. annulus air supply pipe which travels to the central plenum, and
  3. through a 6-in. leak detection pit drain from the central sump. Engineers at Hanford have investigated potential inspection tools from the commercial industry which can traverse through any of the three access paths, but have not found viable tools.

The objective of this task is to develop inspection tools that can provide visual feedback of the DST floors by utilizing lessons learned from previous projects, and to gain an understanding of limitations from other potential tools. FIU engineers will work directly with site engineers to develop alternative designs based on specified performance criteria.

Specific subtasks include:

  • Design and development of a remotely controlled device than can navigate through the refractory pad channels and provide visual feedback.
  • Investigation of the use of a crawler device similar to the peristaltic crawler developed that can navigate through the 3/4-in. air supply pipe that leads to the central plenum.


  • Provides alternative solutions for monitoring the structural integrity of the bottom of the DSTs.
  • Tools developed in this subtask will allow for the detection of potential leaks, allowing site engineers to obtain the necessary information that is needed to generate viable approaches for repair.

Pneumatic Pipe Crawler

The pneumatic crawler is an inspection tool designed to inspect radioactive pipelines with variable sizes around 3 and 4 inches in diameter, while providing video, environmental and structural feedback. The device is currently being developed at the Applied Research Center (ARC) at FIU for the robotic inspection of the ventilation header of the AY-102 tank storing radioactive waste at Hanford site. The proposed worm type robot has a modular design, composed of interchangeable modules connected with flexible links. The device can be customized for several specific tasks with the addition of extra modules, such as instrumentation, material sampling, and pipe repair. The design is an evolution of the existing pipe crawlers previously developed at ARC, and uses pneumatic actuators to emulate the contractions of the peristaltic movement.

Mini Rover

Miniature inspection rover for the inspection of the refractories of the double-shell tank at Hanford site. Miniature robotic system that equipped with a camera for visual feedback, and navigate semi-autonomously for the refractory’s visual inspections. Low cost, easily swappable and disposable. Integration of inspection sensors for measuring temperature, humidity and radiation level along the refractory channels.

Wall Climber

A robotic vehicle that is able to climb a vertical flat surface for the purposes of monitoring and inspection. Capable of climbing a vertical flat surface. Low-cost design, ease of operation. Remote controlled, various sensor integrations.

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