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Technology Factsheet

Caesium Extraction Plant Decommissioning Module

Category: Robotics > Dismantling and Retrieval > Bespoke System
Reference # : Model No :

The module is a 900 tonne box mounted on rails to allow entry into 4 areas within B212. The module housed the decommissioning machine (DCM), associated tooling, cask and waste handling equipment and sub change areas. The majority of the decommissioning work was undertaken by a bespoke tool deployment arm. The TDS is capable of a payload of over 250kg and can deliver 200 bar hydraulic supply, 110 volt AC, and several 24 volt DC signals to smaller tooling at the front end. The smaller tooling is connected via an arterial connection system design which can be remotely latched for in-cell tool changes.

Site:Sellafield
Industry:Nuclear
Size:Very Large (>100kg/200lb, >120cm/48in)
TRL:Operational (9)
TRL2:Operational (9)
Tether: *
Waterproof: *
Payload: *
Reach: *
Manipulator: *

Benefits

Limitations

Comments

The B212 CEP Decommissioning Project went through extensive inactive trials at an off site facility, with the main deployment machine being set up in front of cell mock ups to trial accessibility and tooling design. Whilst this generally proved to be a successful approach, many of the tools have been upgraded or indeed not used since operations began. Tooling maintenance has had to be reconsidered almost from scratch, with very little evidence of it having been included in the design process.

When the project was taken into active commissioning, the front end tooling consisted of many different types, which have offered varying degrees of success. Some are off the shelf tools with minor modifications, simply mounted onto a compliant assembly, whereas others are bespoke tooling designed for the project.

What can be seen here is an attempt at the design stage to solve every problem with a particular design solution. However, experience has shown that the majority of the tasks could be undertaken with the simpler, more robust tools. The tooling that did the majority of the work includes the saw, drill, jaws, breaker and vacuum glass vessel handler. A hydraulic shear was also introduced since active commissioning, and was used to cut a large proportion of the small bore pipework in each of the 3 cells completed.

Larger front end tooling was also designed and trialled, such as a bespoke furnace grab, and a concrete coring drill, both of which could be mounted on the front of the decommissioning machine instead of the manipulators.

The unknown areas involved in many decommissioning projects are at the work face itself, and it is the front end tooling that connects at this point and determines whether the task is completed in a satisfactory way.

However, it is this tooling that is perhaps given the least thought or scrutiny during the design process. Cask and liner handling equipment, ventilation systems and process equipment can all be designed with a good degree of confidence in their operation, but front end tooling can involve a lot more of a “try it and see” approach. The B212 CEP decommissioning project would have benefited from a smaller range of tooling being designed and developed to a better standard before operations began. This would have allowed the team to concentrate on the real unknowns within the operations environment.

Operational Experience:

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