REACH is a collaboration project between RACE, Createc and Viridian Consultants aiming to demonstrate the remote deployment of nuclear characterisation tools. Funded by InnovateUK, the project took place over 3 years, finishing in April 2020.
Deployments of different tools in complex environments is challenging for operators. There is a constant requirement in civil nuclear to characterise the environment in areas where worker access is not possible. Tools often must pass through small openings to enter cells and glove boxes to determine the source of radiometric dose. In addition, different tools must often be deployed using different deployment mechanisms, taking significant time and effort to swap over. If a single deployment system is used, the nature of different tool interfaces can make swapping systems very difficult when wearing protective equipment and potentially additional dose to the operator.
The REACH project aimed to demonstrate how this problem could be solved by remotely deploying tools such as the N-Visage and Viridiscope on robots into challenging environments. The readings from the N-Visage and Viridiscope will aim to inform decision making across civil nuclear sites, protecting workers and saving money.
N-Visage, developed by Createc, is a gamma imager capable of mapping gamma readings onto 360-degree photos, as well as combining 3D point cloud data with gamma readings. Combined with their proprietary integration software, Iris, the N-Visage can provide information to teams about safe and unsafe areas in unknown environments in approximately 2 hours. Iris can be used to control the N-Visage, robotics and cameras in a simple to use interface.
The Viridiscope, created by Viridian Consultants, is a laser ablation sampling tool which can take a suitable sample from concrete, steel and plaster in approximately 2 minutes. Using Viridian’s mobile laboratory, isotopic analysis, gamma radiation detection and gross alpha/beta counts, can all be completed in approximately 20 minutes. Viridian have developed the capability to take samples inside 6” ports.
Collaborating with these companies, RACE developed a universal coupling to allow quick and efficient tool changing between end-effectors. RACE also developed a test cell to demonstrate the remote deployment of the end-effectors, under a small platform, inside a 6” port and through a 6” port.
Due to COVID-19, the live demo at RACE was postponed, but the collaboration team were able to capture some footage of the testing and commissioning of the system. This video can be found on YouTube.