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.
Radioactive components like the spallation targets will be transferred in nuclear casks from the target station to the Active Cells Facility, then components will be cut up using techniques being developed by RACE and delivered by industry, before being stored and then 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.
The Active Cells Facility contains two windowless ‘hot cells’ – the Process Cell and Maintenance Cell.
- Radioactive spent components are loaded though a floor valve at the top of the process cell
- Components are loaded into position depending on the component for cutting and dismantling, then loaded into waste baskets
- Waste baskets are transported into the maintenance cell through the intrabay doors
- Waste baskets are loaded into storage pits after pit lids are removed by a crane
- Waste baskets are loaded into a shipment container for offsite shipment through the transfer area
Due to high levels of radiation, the Process Cell is not accessible to humans, meaning all operations and maintenance must be carried out remotely with a Robotic Handling System with the help of a radiation-resistant viewing system and virtual reality.
The size of the components – which include the 2.5-meter diameter target wheel – means that the primary work tools are large in-cell remote manipulators designed to be operated and maintained for many decades.
By working with industry we are learning and developing skills to deliver a real-world engineering project. Similar capabilities and facilities for managing, processing and storing radioactive waste will be essential to better design and procure a fusion energy power plant.