The novel trials at Culham Science Centre are another step forward on the roadmap to delivering safe, sustainable, low carbon fusion energy to the grid. The £2.7 million, seven-year project by UKAEA’s RACE (Remote Applications in Challenging Environments) was delivered as part of EUROfusion’s flagship DEMO programme.
The DEMO snake will be deployed and operated remotely inside a hazardous environment without being touched by humans. It can also work effectively in pipes packed together, with little space for access.
Tristan Tremethick, Lead Mechanical Design Engineer, UKAEA, said: “In fusion machines, pipework has to be connected and disconnected remotely because of the hazardous environment. Pipework in DEMO is extra challenging because of the limited working space. We’ve been looking at different ways of tackling this and I’m delighted our new snake has passed its first set of trials.
“The bespoke laser welding tool takes a novel approach and operates inside of the pipework to make best use of the cramped space available. At RACE, we pride ourselves on providing complete solutions to enable operations and protect people in challenging environments, and this is another exciting result on our path to delivering fusion energy.”
The project also involved creating an ultrasonic sensor-system to move the snake up and down the pipe to identify each precise working location. A separate launch system gets it inside the pipework remotely.