Robot inspects water tank

14 November 2014

A robotic examination of an in-service condensate storage tank at a US nuclear power reactor has been successfully completed. Previously plant operators would have to use divers or empty the tanks in order to conduct manual inspections.

Engineers from San Antonio-based non-destructive examination (NDE) firm IHI Southwest Technologies conducted the inspection of the tank floor using a combination of phased array ultra-sound, eddy current, laser scanning, and high resolution cameras. All of this equipment was mounted on an Inspector-series underwater robot designed, manufactured and operated by engineers from robotics company Newton Labs.

Inspector robot - 250 (Newton Labs)
An Inspector-series robot (Image: Newton Labs)

The robotic system was able to gather the data requested by the site's engineering team needed to satisfy Nuclear Energy Institute requirements for inspections of nuclear plant water storage tanks in accordance with NEI 09-14. This NEI guideline describes the policy and practices that the industry commits to follow in managing underground piping and tanks.

The robot - equipped to carry two NDE probes as well as five on-board video cameras - was used to survey over 90% of the bottom of the 16.5-metre diameter tank, as well as visually examining the welds of each of its 36 floor plates, including where the 15.8-metre tall tank walls meet the floor.

The tank examination, carried out during the undisclosed reactor's recent outage, marks the first time that robotic examination has been used to satisfy NEI 09-14 requirements.

IHI Southwest Technologies - a wholly owned subsidiary of Japan's IHI Corporation - and Seattle-based Newton Labs announced a partnership in June to carry out such inspections.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News