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News - July 2013

Under laser cutting - Phase 1 completed

This video can be downloaded from the Download section.

One of the key deliverables in the LaserSnake2 project is the development and assessment of an underwater laser cutting process. The desire and motivation for dismantling medium to high level nuclear waste underwater, is to significantly reduce contaminants escaping into the atmospheres and eliminate the logistics of handling and transporting such waste from the pond to the processing area. There is an increasing interest in the nuclear sector, particularly in the UK, to acquire an underwater cutting technology that could be versatile enough to both size reduce and decommission such waste. The primary benefits of dismantling nuclear waste underwater are to minimise production of secondary waste and reduce the complexity of remote operation.

This short video shows the results of initial trials at TWI on underwater laser cutting, conducted in the LaserSnake2 project. The laser used in this work had a power of 5kW and its beam, at 1 micron wavelength, was transmitted to the cutting head through a flexible optical fibre. The best cutting results were achieved when a small housing, situated at the base of the cutting head and surrounding the laser beam delivery system, was pressurised with air to locally remove the water from the region of the cut. In the video, the brush seal on the base of this housing can just be seen, at the top of the images, as the cutting head moves over the part being severed. Materials, thicknesses and cutting speeds are captioned in the video.

Further information can be found in the TWI publication "Underwater Laser Cutting - Phase 1".