RACE is engineering the freedom to operate in challenging environments. Our focus is to develop the remote technologies required to achieve sustainable fusion energy. We work across multiple sectors, including fusion, nuclear decommissioning and international science projects to achieve this goal.
Robotics for fusion research
RACE develops, builds and operates robotics to support and maintain the Joint European Torus (JET).
RACE also hosts the ITER Robotics Test Facility, performing full-scale mock-up trials and feasibility studies. ITER is an international collaborative effort to build the world’s largest fusion machine, aiming to produce net energy gain across the plasma.
The future of fusion energy
When net energy from fusion becomes a reality, remote access robotics developed at RACE will play a key role. Minimising plant down-time is the strongest driver in keeping costs down, so an effective remote maintenance strategy is essential.
The use of robotics in commercial fusion power will define how fusion powerplants are designed and built. There are two RACE programmes working on future fusion machines.
Handling radioactive material
Twenty years of designing remote operations for JET enables us to give unique and valuable insights into the challenges faced by current nuclear powerplants, particularly the decommissioning process. Two current programmes, LongOps and RAICo, are developing robotic hardware, software and training, to deliver safer and faster decommissioning in the UK and Japan.
The European Spallation Source (ESS) in Sweden presents a further opportunity to use specialist knowledge. RACE has led the design and delivery of the Active Cells Facility, which will accept, manipulate, size-reduce and package large, highly irradiated components from the ESS spallation target.
Digital tools and infrastructure
Over the past 25 years operating the JET remote handling system, maintenance requirements have changed, operations have become more complex, and components have become obsolete.
Software must keep up with these demands, requiring investment in long-term solutions.
Increasingly, we use digital tools for complex robotics operations, asset management, training and task planning – both in offline and live operations.
Collaborative research projects
RACE has an extensive portfolio of grant-funded research in collaboration with international universities and industry suppliers. Our growing research team seeks out the latest developments in robotics and autonomous systems and translates them to RACE’s fusion programme.
Our R&D work spans:
- Radiation tolerance
- Control of slender mechanisms
- Hazardous waste management
- Autonomous inspection and management
Find out more about RACE
RACE is the UKAEA’s centre for Remote Applications in Challenging Environments. We design, operate and deliver robotics for extreme industrial environments, working towards our goal: bringing fusion energy to the grid.
Delivering world-changing robotics and bringing fusion energy closer to reality through close collaborations with our partners.