Wintersburg AZ September 3, 2015 [Updated Feb 2016]
Forty Industry Attendees Watch Robotic Technologies of Tennessee Successfully Demonstrate Miniature Mobile Robotic Inspection Platform
Under contract to the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), Robotic Technologies of Tennessee (RTT) successfully demonstrated its miniature mobile robotic platform (“MRP”) for use on stainless steel storage canisters containing used nuclear fuel (also known as dry cask storage systems or “DCSS”) at the Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station in Wintersburg Arizona on September 1 and 2. RTT’s MRP was demonstrated on a DCSS minus spent nuclear fuel in front of approximately forty observers from the nuclear industry. Attendees included representatives from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, National Laboratories, Department of Energy and other industry stakeholders.
RTT’s MRP was able to enter the DCSS via a ventilation duct less than four inches high and traverse three ninety degree corners. Both RTT’s magnet and suction based MRPs were able to successfully traverse the ventilation system and reach the concrete overpack where they were able to travel fifteen feet along the overpack. This would enable either platform to carry an attached non-destructive examination (NDE) device to reach the canister and obtain measurements. The magnet system was able to demonstrate this with an eddy current NDE probe. “We were told that this couldn’t be done, that it was impossible and we shouldn’t even try,” said Jeremy Renshaw of EPRI. “But both designs worked.”
Rapid Development of Robotic Inspection System For Confined Spaces
According to Dr. Jamie Beard, President of RTT, “The timeframe we were given to demonstrate that our MRPs could be miniaturized and successfully navigate multiple 90 degree turns in a ventilation duct was very short. I am very proud of our team and their ability to get this task done.”
RTT’s engineering team was given less than nine months to develop a working mobile robotic inspection system that could carry multiple nondestructive testing systems. Over forty industry observers were invited. “There were very few true believers in that audience,” says Steve Glovsky, Executive Vice President of RTT. “When you’re in the innovation business, that’s the way it is. The nuclear industry is very cautious and its our job to create converts. I’m glad our miniature inspection systems were able to do what we wanted them to do and change opinions on what robots and automation can do for the nuclear waste storage industry.”
RTT designs, builds and sells mobile inspecting and manufacturing platforms. When mounted with manufacturing or inspecting tools, these systems deliver the benefits of factory automation to non-factory environments. RTT systems operate in a variety of environments including nuclear power plants, shipyards, tank terminals and wind farms. Applications include welding, inspection, cutting and grinding. Field fabricators and inspectors can save up to 80% when compared to manual alternatives. RTT systems are operating throughout the United States and around the world meeting challenging weather, operator and fabrication conditions. RTT patented and patent pending technologies are novel solutions for bringing automated and robotic systems to the $10 billion plus welding and inspection industry.
The Electric Power Research Institute, Inc. (EPRI, www.epri.com) conducts research and development relating to the generation, delivery and use of electricity for the benefit of the public. An independent, nonprofit organization, EPRI brings together its scientists and engineers as well as experts from academia and industry to help address challenges in electricity, including reliability, efficiency, affordability, health, safety and the environment. EPRI’s members represent approximately 90 percent of the electricity generated and delivered in the United States, and international participation extends to more than 30 countries. EPRI’s principal offices and laboratories are located in Palo Alto, Calif.; Charlotte, NC; Knoxville, Tenn.; and Lenox, Mass.