Cavendish Nuclear have been awarded funding from the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority and Innovate UK to develop an innovative system for nuclear decommissioning.
South West Nuclear Hub members Cavendish Nuclear lead the team, bringing together experts from parent company Babcock International, alongside the Bristol Robotics Laboratory, Clifton Photonics Ltd., Structure Vision Ltd and Iconsys Ltd, to develop the next generation autonomous waste sorting, segregation and packaging system known as OptiSORT.
Cavendish Nuclear’s Head of Innovation and Technology, Tony Burnett said:
“Through OptiSORT, we aim to deliver truly autonomous radioactive waste sorting, segregation and packaging solutions which will minimise safety risks to operators, result in significant productivity benefits, maintain quality standards and improve efficiency to reduce costs”.
The work draws on experience from a number of successful complex waste retrieval design and build projects delivered by Cavendish Nuclear to support the decommissioning and site restoration programme at the Magnox Berkeley site.
This experience has helped inform OptiSORT development objectives to create a fully autonomous system by combining existing sensor technology and hardware, with an innovative control system to achieve real-time autonomous operation. The system will be capable of sorting, segregating and efficiently packaging radioactive wastes, straddling the Intermediate and Low Level Waste boundaries, without continuous human intervention or direction.
The OptiSORT system is expected to make a significant contribution to UK's Net Zero ambitions, as well as cost reduction objectives through step changes in waste management approaches.