Robots cleaning windows

Robots cleaning windows

Although still using a bog standard ‘chamois’ and a bit of elbow grease, this is far from your normal day to day window cleaning job.

For the first time in over thirty years the double glazed shielded glass fronts of Dounreay’s radioactive caves are being wiped clean of thick layers of dust and oxides from highly reactive sodium metal with the help of remotely controlled robotic arms.

The long line of imposing glass fronted caves are used for preparation and handling of redundant radioactive components for storage or disposal as waste.

The double glazed units have built up dust and sodium deposits over the years, prompting some thought into a cleaning technique that would allow the heavy ¾ tonne inner window pane to be lifted and wiped clean whilst maintaining the safe radiologically controlled atmosphere inside.

The thick dirty coating is simply being wiped off using a household chamois cloth attached to a specially designed and purpose built lifting arm controlled with a robotic manipulator, operated by trained workers.

Alex Potts, DSRL senior project manager, explained: ‘The difference in the glass is striking and what was a hazy reflection is now a clear shining view through the window into the cell.

"After some innovative thinking and design planning the results speak for themselves.

"The project team are doing a great job with this seemingly simple task, not without its challenges, that will make the decommissioning programme  easier to carry out as the plant is pulled apart.”