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LaserSnake cutting an access hole in a vessel

LaserSnake2 follows the initial LaserSnake feasibility study performed by OC Robotics and TWI, and supported by the TSB, in 2012. For this study a snake-arm robot was successfully combined with a 5kW laser to enable a selective, remote-controlled approach to dismantling and decommissioning complex structures in hazardous and confined nuclear environments.

Nuclear cell to be decommissioned - Image courtesy of Sellafield Ltd

Decommissioning of nuclear facilities represents a critical long-term challenge to the industry. Remote single-sided cutting of vessels, support structures, flasks and pipe work is a basic, ubiquitous process. At present there is no standard deployment of remote cutting technologies that can be cost-effectively applied in high-hazard environments. LaserSnake2 will address the issue by conducting research with two types of robot – one for open access spaces and one for confined spaces – equipped with high power lasers for cutting contaminated material. The approach has the potential to increase safety and reduce decommissioning timescales and costs.

For more information on the original LaserSnake project, please see the LaserSnake case study.