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Robot power will take apart Dounreay’s dome

Robot power will take apart Dounreay’s dome

Like something out of the Tom Cruise movie War of the Worlds, the Kuka robot has a very important job to do.

The standard industrial robot, built exactly the same as a typical car assembly line robot, will play an integral part in the demolition process of Dounreay’s iconic fast reactor.

Removal of the highly hazardous and radioactive breeder slugs is the next crucial step in decommissioning the fifty year old facility.

The robot does the job traditionally undertaken by operators using manipulators whilst working through heavily shielded lead glass windows. The working area is very high in radiation – too high for people to access, so the robot does the job safely and much quicker, lowering the radiological hazards, plus providing consistency and reliability in a highly controlled environment.

The giant orange robot, built by Kuka Robotics UK Ltd, manoeuvres on a static turntable and is pre-programmed to remove the lid of the 500 litre waste drums, swab around the surface checking for traces of radioactive contamination and clean the top of the Magnox flask which stores the drums.

It operates like a giant portable pincer arm and is controlled remotely to maintain a safe, clean and secure process within the breeder packaging plant.

Inactive commissioning will be complete by the end of the financial year ready for the breeder removal operation to begin in summer 2012.