New robots help with Savannah River Site's deadliest waste

Monday, May 7, 2012 1:50 PM
Last updated 2:54 PM
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A Savannah River Site contractor tasked with cleaning up radioactive waste is adding a new fleet of robots to reduce worker exposure to some of the most dangerous environments.

Savannah River Remediation already used robots named Tizzy, Frankie and G.I. Joe in its efforts to remove liquid nuclear waste from aging storage tanks at the site.

The newest additions include PackBot and the Brokk 400, which will perform cleanup and inspection work in places so high in radioactivity that employees who had to perform the work previously had to wear protective clothing and respirators.

Both robots were purchased from suppliers and modified for use at SRS. PackBot cost approximately $175,000, and Brokk 400 was approximately $450,000.

PackBot, which is the size of a footstool, is a versatile ground robot that efficiently navigates various terrain including rubble, narrow passages and steep grades. It performs remote cleanup activities in the Defense Waste Processing Facility, where hazardous waste is mixed with molten glass and poured into stainless steel canisters for permanent storage.

The Brokk 400, about the size of a golf cart, performs several functions including the delicate task of making cuts in waste transfer lines and separating sections of glass pumps and other components in the waste processing cycle.


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