Cumbrian robot goes to work at Sellafield

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11 October 2017 5:47PM

A Cumbrian robot has been used to help clean up Sellafield's most hazardous nuclear waste store.

The ‘Avexis’ has been developed by Allerdale firm Forth Engineering, based at the Glasson Industrial Estate in Maryport, with support from the University of Manchester.

This firm was set up 17 years ago and is run by Mark Telford, himself a former Sellafield engineer. It is now a specialist in remote tooling, deployment methods and sensor systems with clients around the world.

It has been designed to help dislodge and clear waste from the Magnox Swarf Storage Silo.

Mr Telford said: “Having Sellafield on our doorstep gives us a huge advantage.

“It’s a testbed where we can develop unique skills and technologies.

“The site needs innovative methods for undertaking engineering tasks in harsh environments underwater.

“Other industries like marine and oil and gas are also looking for similar products.

“Successfully deploying our technology at Sellafield means we can transfer it to these other industries and grow our customer base.

“The Avexis is already generating interest from potential clients overseas.”

The silo was built in the 1960s to store waste from the UK’s earliest nuclear reactors.

It closed in 2000 and has now been prioritised for clean-up by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA).

This is the first time a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) has been deployed inside the building.

Rebecca Weston, strategy and technical director at Sellafield, said:

“The Avexis is a great example of the supply chain helping us reduce the UK’s nuclear hazard faster, cheaper and more safely.

“It also shows how companies can use Sellafield as a springboard into international export markets."

The Avexis offers the ability to ‘see’ inside the silo via cameras attached to its body and can clear away small bits of waste clinging to the silo wall.

It is small enough to fit through spaces of just 150mm space and is the first robot of its kind to go from concept to market within five years. It costs £10,000.

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