Snake-arm robots to conduct CANDU pipe inspection
Ontario Power Generation (OPG) has awarded a contract to U.K.-based OC Robotics to design and build a snake-arm robot.
Ontario Power Generation (OPG) has awarded a contract to U.K.-based OC Robotics to design and build a snake-arm robot mounted on a mobile vehicle that will be used to inspect complex pipework and structures within CANDU reactors.
Snake-arm robots are flexible robotic arms which have many joints so they can “follow their nose” into confined spaces. OC Robotics claims it is the only commercial manufacturer of snake-arm robots in the world. This Canada-bound snake-arm will be 2 m (7 ft.) in length and will have a rectangular cross-section measuring 25 mm (1 in.) in width and 50 mm (2 in.) in height. In the first instance, the snake-arm will be equipped with tip cameras for pipe inspection.
This is also the first time OC Robotics has been the prime contractor to a nuclear utilities company and won the contract by demonstrating previous nuclear experience and the ability to meet the stringent quality requirements including ISO9001. OC Robotics completed its first commercial nuclear contract in 2004. Working with Uddcomb AB, OC Robotics supplied two types of robot (five in total) to Ringhals AB in Sweden to complete an urgent pipe replacement in an extremely awkward area below one of their reactors.
CANDU reactors are Canadian invented nuclear reactors originally developed in the 1950s and ’60s. There are currently 19 operational reactors in Canada and 23 in the rest of the world. OPG owns and runs 10 of these reactors and leases two others.