Japanese IHI has signed a contract with Kurion to develop an advanced robotic arm that can repair primary containment leaks within Unit 2 Reactor at the damaged Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.
The technology is to be known as the ‘Fukushima Repair Manipulator’ (FRM). It will be used at the site to search and inspect for leaks, at places where humans are unable to reach.
The FRM is expected to be deployed by the middle of 2016. It represents the second phase of the repair efforts for the reactor.
Kurion had been a part of the first phase as well, having developed and delivered the Fukushima Inspection Manipulator (FIM) for the facility. This is another robotic innovation meant for searching the causes of the leaks.
The plant is owned by Tokyo Electric Power, been severely affected following an earthquake and tsunami in 2011.
Three reactors melted down at the facility, which necessitated the use of thousands of tons of water for cooling down. Most of the water has turned radioactive and leaked down into the basements which will need storage tanks for pumping out the toxic water.
Kurion CEO Bill Gallo said: "Access to radioactive and hazardous environments is a crucial piece of the waste management puzzle."
Robotics technology will be used at the site for plugging the radioactive water leaks. This would lessen the amount of contaminated water that is used for cooling down the reactors.
Once implemented, FRM can allow the workers to enter the site for cleanup to remove to damaged fuel and debris.
The robotic arm will feature advanced tools for cutting, water-jet and grouting, and will also be equipped with automatic control sequences, which will guide it along the task.
Kurion founder and president John Raymont said: "Kurion is honored to be selected yet again to assist with the ongoing recovery efforts at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.
"For the past three years, Kurion has applied our innovative technologies throughout the plant to purify hazardous water and identify repair needs.
"Now, the adoption of Kurion’s Fukushima Repair Manipulator marks another critical step in accelerating the ongoing cleanup of the plant."
Image: Fukushima I nuclear power plant. Photo: courtesy of KEI / Wikipedia.