Run by the National Nuclear Laboratory, Game Changers is an innovation programme which finds solutions and develops technologies to overcome some of the most complex challenges facing the nuclear industry. The best ideas are then selected for funding and further development to help them fulfil their potential and increase the chance of implementation on nuclear sites.
The first stage of this particular challenge, set by Sellafield Ltd and Dounreay Site Restoration Limited (DSRL), looked for feasibility solutions for the characterisation or post-operational sampling of organic residues in pipes and vessels to help confirm their removal to acceptable levels. The presence of residues, in the form of solids, liquids and sludges, is expected in pipes and vessels across a wide range of facilities as a result of reprocessing, but their presence can be hazardous, including the risk of ignition. Therefore, to ensure the safe decommissioning and dismantling of nuclear site facilities, these risks need to be mitigated and the challenge looks for an efficient and effective way to do this.
The design put forward by BakerHicks’ nuclear specialists draws on their experience in process engineering. with a straightforward yet pioneering solution. The concept incorporates a bespoke ‘duplex’ endoscopic / Raman spectrometer probe with the capability to visually locate and chemically characterise samples in-situ. Its core functionality enables the visual identification of analysed samples via an integrated light source and an articulating endoscope sensor tip, with the assembly of both inspection technologies designed to operate in the harsh environment of nuclear decommissioning.
Dave Gorringe, head of Nuclear at BakerHicks, says the solution focuses on integrating two sets of technology in one:
Game Changers is a brilliant platform which gives individuals and companies the freedom to think. We have some tremendous talent in this industry and this programme gives them the scope to really challenge themselves as designers and add value.
This particular challenge allowed our team to draw on their experience on other projects and across different sectors to come up with a solution that ticks all the right boxes without being over-engineered. The programme represents innovation at its best and we will definitely be entering further challenges where our experience can be of benefit to the industry.
BakerHicks’ solution will now be reviewed by Sellafield and DSRL with a view to it progressing to the Proof of Concept phase of the competition.