Another Fukushima Robot Dies

April 10, 2015 - FUKUSHIMA, JAPAN. A team of 40 engineers and technicians from GE-Hitachi work with power plant owner Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) released a newly developed snake robot to provide reconnaissance of the now defunct Unit 1 reactor. The robot eventually dies only after 3 hours of operation vs. 10 engineers had originally anticipated due to extremely high levels of radiation.
 
The device, a remotely operated shape shifting robot which can alter it's shape is a joint effort between GE-Hitachi and Japan's International Research Institute for Nuclear Decommissioning (IRID). IRID has led the charge in developing and deploying robots into the highly dangerous and challenging Fukushima environment. These factors include elevated operating temperatures and radiation, unstable and random physical objects from fallen debris, stairs, rubble and various piping. Robot flexibilty provides highest potential to succeed in a rather unpredictable environment.
 
With its shape shifting abilities, the robot was installed in its tubular position resembling a snake hanging from the tree. Once  on the floor, it changed to a more stable positioning looking more like tracked crawler with cameras and sensors.
 
From onboard sensors, certain areas of the reactor showed levels as high as 29 Sievert = 2900 Rem per hour at 19C. In contrast, US radiation workers are only allowed to receive a yearly dose exposure of 4 Rem/year.
 
Fukushiuma Daiichi
In 2011, Japan suffered the world's fourth largest recorded earthquake since 1900. The 9.0 magnitude earthquake occured 231 miles from northeast of Tokyo at a depth of 15 miles and would be the largest to ever hit Japan. At the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, operated by the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), 30ft tsunami waves crippled 4(Units 1-4) of its 6 nuclear reactors resulting in the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl.
 
In response, the nuclear power community immediately responds with regulatory groups such as the NRC in the US inspecting plants to ensure the events causing 3 reactor cores melting at Fukushima would never occur again. These action plans were appropriately named Fuskushima disastor recovery.
 
Credits:
Images courtesy of IRID

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