Monster robot for Dounreay

06 May 2009

Engineers have designed a robotic system for hazardous work on the Dounreay Prototype Fast Reactor. The two-armed machine - which also has ten eyes and four ears - has been named 'Reactorsaurus'.


Dounreay PFR robot 1
Dounreay PFR robot 2
The entire machine and a close-up of
one of its arms
The 75 tonne robot takes the form of a traversing carriage with two 16 metre arms. Operators in a remote control room will use binocular cameras on each arm to take apart the highly radioactive internal structures of the 254 MWe reactor.


The arms will be able to cut up and reduce the size of reactor components using diamond wire, hydraulic shears, oxy/propane and plasma cutting. Operators will also be able to listen in on the action using two microphones on each of the arms.


Jared Fraser, head of the Dounreay Site Restoration Ltd's design team, said: "Completion of the design phase of a complex and unique piece of equipment like this is a credit to the entire team who have worked tirelessly for the past year."


The robot will only be used after 2013. Before then, decommissioning engineers will practice their techniques in a full-size simulated model of the reactor built off-site. A tender for the construction of the model is due to be issued this year, with the model itself taking two years of build.


The Prototype Fast Reactor generated power for the UK grid from 1976 until 1994. It was built as the prototype for a new generation of UK advanced reactors but did not perform to expectations. It is also proving difficult to decommission due to the activation of its liquid sodium coolant.