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“Aye robot!” Cumbrian innovation helps clean up UK’s most hazardous waste store Work

“Aye robot!” Cumbrian innovation helps clean up UK’s most hazardous waste store

A robot made by Forth Engineering has been used to clean up the UK’s most hazardous nuclear waste store.

The remotely operated ‘Avexis’ robot made by the Maryport-based company with support from Manchester University, has been helping to remove waste from Sellafield’s Magnox Swarf Storage Silo.

The robot is fitted with cameras to scope out challenges and with “arms” to clear away waste clinging to the walls of the silo – which was built in the 1960s store waste from the UK’s earliest nuclear reactors, and has been prioritised for clean up following its closure in 2000.

Avexis Robot Engineer

The innovation is the latest from Choose Cumbria partner Forth Engineering, which was set up 17 years ago and is run by Mark Telford, himself a former Sellafield engineer. It now specialises in remote tooling, deployment methods and sensor systems with clients around the world.

Mark said: “Having Sellafield on our doorstep gives us a huge advantage. It’s a testbed where we can develop unique skills and technologies.

“The site needs innovative methods for undertaking engineering tasks in harsh environments underwater. Other industries like marine and oil and gas are also looking for similar products.

“Successfully deploying our technology at Sellafield means we can transfer it to these other industries and grow our customer base. The Avexis is already generating interest from potential clients overseas.”

The Avexis is small enough to fit through spaces of just 150mm space and is the first robot of its kind to go from concept to market within five years. It costs £10,000.

Rebecca Weston, strategy and technical director at Sellafield, said: “The Avexis is a great example of the supply chain helping us reduce the UK’s nuclear hazard faster, cheaper and more safely.

“It also shows how companies can use Sellafield as a springboard into international export markets."

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