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Robot starts mission in buildings storing nuclear waste

2017-October-12       Source: Xinhuanet.com

A robot has started its mission to help dislodge and clear radioactive waste from the Magnox Swarf Storage Silo, a facility built to store nuclear waste.

A robot has started its mission to help dislodge and clear radioactive waste from the Magnox Swarf Storage Silo, a facility built to store nuclear waste.

Video of the tiny "Avexis" robot in action at the Magnox Swarf Storage Silo at Sellafied in northern England was released Wednesday by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA).

It has to be specially made to fit through the only access point to the silo, a gap of just 150 mm.

The robot could send back the image inside the silo via cameras attached to it. It can also clear away small bits of waste clinging to the silo wall.

The mission is also hazardous even for a robot, as the radio-active cocktail could pose risk to electronics.

But the first pictures show "Avexis" successfully made its debut journey.

Developed by Cumbrian firm Forth Engineering with support from the University of Manchester, "Avexis" was finally sent into its first mission after about five years of development.

It is the first robot of its kind to go from concept to market within five years and costs just 13,200 U.S. dollars, making it the cheapest of its kind.

The company was launched in 2000 by former Sellafield apprentice Mark Telford.

Telford's business is now a global specialist in remote tooling, deployment methods, and sensor systems.

Telford said: "Having Sellafield on our doorstep gives a huge advantage. It's a testbed where we can develop unique skills and technologies. The site needs innovative technology to undertake engineering tasks in harsh environments underwater."

The "Avexis" is already generating interest from potential clients overseas.

The Magnox Swarf Storage Silo was built in the 1960s to store waste from the Britain's earliest nuclear reactors. It closed in 2000 and has now been prioritized for clean-up by the NDA.

Rebecca Weston, strategy and technical director at Sellafield said the Avexis is helping reduce Britain's nuclear hazard faster, cheaper and more safely.

Editor: Will

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