UKAEA is starting construction of a new centre for the development of Remote Applications in Challenging Environments (RACE).
Minister breaks ground for RACE
The Rt. Hon. Greg Clark MP, Minister of State for Universities, Science and Cities, visited the UK Atomic Energy Authority’s (UKAEA’s) Culham Science Centre on Thursday 22 January to formally mark the start of the construction phase of a brand new robotics and remote handling centre – RACE.
When fully operational by the end of 2015, the purpose-built, 3,000 square metre RACE building will conduct R&D into many applications of this technology. It will be a key centre for implementing the Government’s Robotics and Autonomous Systems strategy, announced in July, which aims to equip the UK to compete in this emerging global industry.
RACE capitalises on the remote handling systems developed at Culham for the Joint European Torus (JET) fusion project and will enable customers to apply this knowledge to their own fields. It will give access to state-of-the-art test facilities, robotic equipment and expertise to SMEs, multinationals, research laboratories and academia from areas such as space applications, deep sea exploration, fusion research and the advanced nuclear fission industry.
The RACE facility brings together a broad range of expertise from the UK Atomic Energy Authority and its partners the National Nuclear Laboratory, TWI, the National Physical Laboratory and the Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre.
RACE will provide support to an Assystem-led team that has secured a five-year multi-million euro contract to design, manufacture, install and commission the remote handling system for the ITER fusion device’s divertor. (The consortium includes RACE, Soil Machine Dynamics Ltd, Finland’s Technical Research Centre and the Tampere University of Technology). The divertor is a key component of the ITER machine. Located at the bottom of the vacuum vessel, it acts an exhaust system to extract waste and impurities from the fusion fuel in the vessel. The divertor remote handling systems include the equipment required to safely and reliably position as well as extract each of the 54 removable cassette modules. The system will bring together high tech robotics, advanced electro-mechanical systems, computer control and advanced virtual reality modelling.