Robotics and technological innovation for nuclear decommissioning is a potentially growing market.
This is good news for UK businesses wanting to increase their market.
We really want businesses, particularly innovative Small and Medium sized Enterprises (SMEs), from different sectors to embrace technological opportunities that can help us tackle the challenges that we face across our estate. We are always seeking ideas that can help us decommission our sites in better ways.
Across our estate we have a number of great examples of where robotics are used to improve productivity and also deal with hazards that require remote handling. These examples include cutting edge technology as well as re-use or adaption of solutions used in other sectors and industries. There is no single answer, which is great for industry.
If businesses want to grasp these opportunities in this area, they may want to understand more about nuclear decommissioning issues and find out what other organisations are already doing or planning. To make a new business idea work, it’s important to understand how a proposal improves on current ways of doing things, or how it can be combined with other technology that may already exist or be under development.
Business opportunities in nuclear decommissioning
To help organisations network with other companies working in this industry, NDA and its estate run an annual Supply Chain Event. Over 1,500 attendees spend a day networking and sharing ideas.
The 2016 event will be held on Thursday 3 November.
Over the past few years, we’ve hosted an Innovation Zone at the event that has showcased some of the emerging technologies for use across our estate. Attendees find the event really helpful for developing their business ideas and approach to entering the decommissioning market.
Awards for innovative technology
We also host an awards ceremony at the #DecommSupply event to recognise both innovation and collaboration. This could be new technology or an adaptation of existing technology from other industries which provide cost effective solutions to nuclear decommissioning.
Closing date for applications is 9 September 2016.
Examples of SME collaboration in robotics
We’ve already seen some companies working together on robotic solutions for tasks in nuclear plants that are problematic to access by conventional means.
OC Robotics have worked with two different SMEs to adapt their dexterous snake-arm robot to tackle two different decommissioning tasks.
With TWI Ltd, OC Robotics worked to combine innovative laser cutting techniques to create an integrated system that can be used from a distance to cut up steel plate in locations on nuclear sites where it is not desirable to have people work.
From LaserSnake to SeeSnake
OC Robotics then began work with Createc to combine the same “snake” robot with N-Visage™ radiation mapping technology. This transformed version is called a “SeeSnake” because it can “see” radioactivity and depict it in 3D. This means areas that are difficult to access can be assessed for the accurate location and level of any radiation sources.
Createc hope to prove this technology at Sellafield. Meanwhile Fukushima continues to be the most prominent short-term application of the SeeSnake concept.
For more information and to network with others involved in robotics…
UK Robotics Week
The RAS Network has successfully developed the concept of "UK Robotics Week" to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers to push the boundaries further. The week is aimed at everyone, from children to industry to government.
This event is the ‘grand finale’ event of the UK Robotics week organised by IET and the UK EPSRC UK-RAS Network. The aim is to bring together academia and industry from countries leading on robotics research, showcase the latest developments from the UK and from around the world and celebrate the success of the first UK Robotics Week.
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Guidance on funding to test ideas
If you want to develop an innovative product or service, you may be able to apply for funding of between £25,000 and £10 million.
Robotics and Autonomous Systems (RAS) Network
Innovate UK's RAS special interest group aims to bring together an integrated community of entrepreneurs, innovators, researchers and potential end users to create a vision for the emerging industrial Robotics and Autonomous Systems (RAS) sector in the UK.