NDA shortlists decommissioning ideas
August 04, 2017 – Robots, drones and lasers are among the technologies being proposed for deployment in Sellafield’s impending nuclear clean-up.
Over the next few years several major plants at the Sellafield nuclear power station will come to the end of their operational life, including the Thermal Oxide Reprocessing Plant (THORP) and Magnox reprocessing plants, which are used to reprocess nuclear waste.
The decommissioning difficulties involved with safely handling contaminated vessels and miles of radioactive steelwork prompted the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) to lay down a challenge to the industry: how do we do it?
The competition set out to find and fund technology that will clean up the Sellafield cells as safely, quickly and cost-effectively as possible whilst minimising risks to the workforce.
The NDA has now shortlisted 15 ideas and is providing £3m for them to be worked up.
The shortlisted entries (below), many of which come from companies that have never worked in the nuclear industry before, now have three months to develop their ideas for a chance to move on to the next stage.
The winning technologies will need to find ways of safely accessing the cells, surveying the contents, cleaning them out and putting the radioactive waste into packages for safe storage. The proposals feature the use of leading-edge technologies such as artificial intelligence, virtual reality, robots, drones, lasers and specialised remote sensors and detectors.
Although initially focused on Sellafield, the winning ideas could be used to clean up the other nuclear sites owned by the NDA, which date back to the earliest days of the UK nuclear industry.
NDA head of technology Melanie Brownridge said: “This competition is an amazing opportunity for creative, forward-thinking and innovative companies to collaborate and come up with cutting-edge solutions for cleaning up some of the UK’s most complex nuclear sites.
“The NDA is continually seeking the best ways to encourage new ideas from the supply chain and ensure everyone has an opportunity to get involved. The response we have had to this competition has been fantastic. We’ve been really impressed by the standard of proposals and the healthy numbers of applicants.
“I’m also extremely encouraged by the high level of interest from organisations outside the nuclear sector, offering highly innovative solutions from industries such as the oil and gas sector, defence industries and even space exploration.”
|AN Technology||A Flexible Measurement and Waste Led, Robotics-Based Decommissioning Project|
|Amec Foster Wheeler||Integrated Innovation for Nuclear Decommissioning|
|Barrnon||Barrnon Integrated Decommissioning System|
|Cavendish Nuclear||Sellafield In-Cell Decommissioning System (SIDS)|
|Costain Oil, Gas and Process||Stabilisation, Excavation and Segregation|
|Createc||Elephants to Ants: Innovation in Integration|
|Davy Markham||Integrated & Transferable Decommissioning Toolkit|
|Eadon Consulting||Versatile Decommissioning System (VDS)|
|James Fisher Nuclear||Hot Hatch Cell Recovery|
|MDA Space & Robotics||DecomSmart|
|Oliver Crispin Robotics||LaserSnake++|
|Rovtech Solutions||Integrated Keyhole Remote Decommissioning System|
|University of the West of England||Integrated robotic system for characterisation and decommissioning|
|Westinghouse Electric Company UK||Integrated Innovation for Nuclear Decommissioning|