Aberdeen-based oil and engineering giant Wood plc said it won UK Government backing “to bring space technology to nuclear decommissioning.”
Wood said it is leading research to make nuclear decommissioning “safer, faster and more cost-effective by innovatively applying new technologies developed in space exploration, car production and medicine.”
Wood has secured £1.5 million funding from the UK’s government’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) and Innovate UK after winning a competition to find the best new ideas.
Wood and its supply chain will combine new data and control systems with state-of-the-art robotics to design a demonstrator system for cleaning and dismantling highly radioactive rooms or ‘cells’ at Sellafield in Cumbria, UK, Europe’s most complex nuclear site.
“The technologies used in Wood’s project include novel material handling solutions to reduce the risks of working at height, mixed reality headsets, a multi-fingered gripper allowing robots to grasp different objects, and a navigation system designed for missions to Mars that enables autonomous mapping where human access is impossible,” said Wood.
Bob MacDonald, CEO of Wood’s Specialist Technical Solutions business, said: “Our innovative proposal for a fully remote solution removes the operator from a hazardous environment and is adaptable enough to tackle different tasks, many of which present unique challenges.
“Wood’s role is as an innovation integrator, bringing together ingenious ideas from industry and academia to define a new approach to the nuclear decommissioning challenge.”
Wood’s research partners are Airbus Defence and Space Ltd, Clicks and Links Ltd, Damavan Imaging SAS, Digital Concepts Engineering Ltd, IS-Instruments Ltd, I3D Robotics Ltd, The University of Lancaster, The University of Salford, Kawasaki UK Ltd and TWI.