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 (ex-situ) and one for confined spaces (in-situ) – equipped with high power lasers for cutting contaminated material. The approach has the potential to increase safety and reduce decommissioning timescales and costs.
The technology also has huge potential outside of the nuclear sector - for instance, inspection and maintenance of high value assets in the oil & gas and construction sectors, and working within confined spaces such as aircraft wings for assembly and maintenance. For this reason the research will focus on the underlying technical challenges including software control, electronics, process development, and mechanism design. The project will conclude with onsite demonstrations.
- Development of long reach snake-arm robots to operate in nuclear environments (air & water)
- Development of laser cutting process heads, optics and diffractive optics for nuclear decommissioning
- Consideration of regulatory and certification issues associated with tele-operated delivery of laser cutting solutions for the nuclear sector
- Integration of snake-arm robots and mobile platforms for the exploration of complex spaces
LaserSnake2 partners will undertake the following project programme elements:
- Demonstrating that a 5kW laser can cut material representative of that found in redundant nuclear plant
- Demonstrating that the snake-arm robot is capable of deploying the laser head in a controlled manner, with sufficient dexterity to exploit the versatility of laser cutting
- Demonstrating the ease with which the arm can be deployed into redundant plant areas
- Demonstrating that the deployment technique and laser cutting technology can be used safely in areas not specifically designed for laser cutting
- Investigating the damage caused to surrounding plant as a result of laser cutting
- Investigating the effect of airborne particulate on local ventiliation filtration