Active Cells Facility for the European Spallation Source

Delivering the world’s largest windowless hot cell.
An aerial view of the European Spallation Source under construction. The Active Cells Facility is visible to the left of this image.

RACE is the systems integrator for the European Spallation Source’s Active Cells Facility. The European Spallation Source (ESS) is a multi-disciplinary research facility in Lund, Sweden and will be the world’s most powerful neutron source. 

Digital render of a portion of the ESS Active Cells Facility

Operations at ESS will result in components becoming highly radioactive. Radioactive components like the spallation target will be transferred in shielded casks from the neutron source to the Active Cells Facility. The components will be cut up using techniques developed by RACE and delivered by industry, before being stored and shipped to a waste storage facility.

RACE is working with industry to design, build and commission all the equipment required to operate the Active Cells Facility. 

Due to the high levels of radiation, this hot cell will never be accessible to humans. Operations and maintenance must be carried out with remote handling robotics systems, with the help of a radiation-resistant viewing system and virtual reality.

The size of the components – which include the 2.5-meter diameter, 10-meter long target wheel – means that the primary work tools are large in-cell remote manipulators designed to be operated and maintained for many decades.

Similar capabilities and facilities for managing, processing and storing radioactive waste will be vital, transferrable knowledge for designing fusion energy powerplants. 

Digital render of the ESS Active Cells Facility
  1. Radioactive components are loaded though a floor valve at the top of the process cell.
  2. Components are loaded into position for cutting and dismantling, then loaded into waste baskets.
  3. Waste baskets are transported into the maintenance cell through the intrabay doors.
  4. Waste baskets are loaded into storage pits below the maintenance cell after pit lids are removed by a crane.
  5. Waste baskets are loaded into a shipment container for offsite shipment through the transfer area.

RACE is a great and friendly place to work with a diverse array of projects and people. I am responsible for the handling systems at the ESS Active Cells Facility, working closely with the end users in Sweden and the supply chain across the UK and Europe to deliver a first of a kind system.

William Blyth

Principal Mechanical Engineer, ESS

RACE Programmes

RACE is engineering the freedom to operate in challenging environments. To achieve our fusion engineering goals, we work internationally with end users, industry supply chains and academia.

Developing digital tools to enable faster, safer and more cost-effective decommissioning.

The Robotics and Artificial Intelligence Collaboration for fusion energy, fission decommissioning and beyond.

Developing concepts for the maintenance of the world’s most ambitious fusion energy project.

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