Inside Unmanned Systems

AUG-SEP 2018

Inside Unmanned Systems provides actionable business intelligence to decision-makers and influencers operating within the global UAS community. Features include analysis of key technologies, policy/regulatory developments and new product design.

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AIR HAZARD LOCATION 64   August/September 2018 unmanned systems inside RadPiper is designed to move through hori- zontal pipes with only minimal inclines. "Vertical pipes would demand a whole separate design, and honestly, there are not that many vertical pipes in these plants," Rimando said. "When you are enriching uranium, you want gas containing it to f low as straight as possible. You want to be very careful to not create instances where you would interrupt that f low, since you do not want it settling down and potentially depositing ura- nium-235 within the pipes—you want to recover as much uranium-235 from the gas as possible." For 30-inch pipes, RadPiper can scan at speeds of more than 30 feet per minute. "Our initial es- timate for the amount of time RadPiper can save is that for every eight hours of conducting surveys with handheld equipment, RadPiper can do it in an hour, and that eight-to-one ratio is likely an underestimate," Rimando said. "Moreover, the data quality is much, much better because it is taking direct measurements instead of through a pipe—the error band is reduced by 50 percent, if not more. That is a huge improvement." In a dd it ion t o sav i ng t i me a nd lab or, R adPiper promises to signif icantly reduce hazards to workers who would otherwise have to perform radiation measurements by hand. "We are not sure yet how much fewer people TINY SWIER The Mini-Manbo (Little Sunfish) remotely operated vehicle built by Toshiba finally found the missing fuel fuel at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. are needed with RadPiper—we will know much better when we have more runs with it under the belt," Rimando said. The scientists tested the RadPiper prototype in late 2017 at the Portsmouth facility. The robot suc- cessfully traversed pipe and measured radioactive deposits to a resolution, accuracy and speed un- achievable by alternate methods. Live hot tests with the final design of RadPiper were underway in July, Rimando said. The robot will be delivered to Fluor-BWXT Portsmouth to work at the Portsmouth facility in August or early September, he added. The pipe segments that RadPiper detects as having hazardous deposits will be removed and decontaminated. The vast majority of the Portsmouth facility's piping will remain in place and be demolished safely along with the rest of the facility. Researchers estimated RadPiper "may save anywhere from $10 million to $50 million per facility," Rimando said. "Once RadPiper is de- ployed, the real number-crunching will begin. It might end up saving hundreds of millions of dol- lars per plant." They suggested RadPiper could find use at the uranium enrichment plant in Paducah, Kentucky, as well as elsewhere in the Department of Energy's defense nuclear clean- up program, which is not even half complete, Rimando said. RadPiper is designed to initially operate in pipes measuring 30 inches and 42 inches in diameter. "We are now interested in designing a system for pipes 10 inches in diameter," Rimando said. DIVING INTO FUKUSHIMA Robot submarines are at work at nuclear sites as well. In fact, in 2017, one finally found the melted uranium fuel rods at Fukushima. The 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan triggered meltdowns at three of the six reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. For years, no one could find the hundreds of tons of fuel inside these reactors that overheated, melted and burned through their steel containers. This Photo courtesy of Toshiba Energy Systems & Solutions Corporation. RADIION CLEANUP

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