Alpha Active Demonstrator Installation

Working in collaboration with a number of partners, Cyan Tec have recent installed a laser cutting machine – an Alpha Active Demonstrator – at Sellafield. The project aims to develop a safer, semi remote process for the size reduction of alpha contaminated items that is more efficient when compared to manual operations. This is expected to have safety, cost and schedule benefits once the technology is proven and optimised.

Gloveboxes used for research, development and operations that have come to the end of their life will be decommissioned as part of the site’s clean-up programme.

Many of these are contaminated with alpha-bearing material and current decommissioning plans include manual techniques which are often hazardous and time consuming. There is a driver to address this challenge using alternative technologies to deliver safer, more efficient decommissioning at a lower cost.

A facility for reducing the size of gloveboxes has been built in an existing laboratory on the Sellafield site. This self-contained laser cutting facility will reduce the risk to operators during remote size reduction of alpha contaminated gloveboxes.

This includes a laser cutting system mounted on a six degrees of freedom robotic arm with recovery of waste and minimum human intervention.

Inactive trials have now been completed, with active tests planned for early 2022. A phase of active demonstrations will take place in order to deliver the pre-defined learning objectives and to enable future decisions on the capability to be made.

The AAD project will determine whether to scale up and build a Central Breakdown Facility or whether another Engineered Drum Store or Waste Treatment Complex is required to house additional waste from the decommissioning of alpha contaminated gloveboxes.