Jacobs has designed and built a robotic tool to obtain crucial information about the state of a damaged nuclear power reactor at Fukushima Daiichi in Japan. The remotely operated device will collect pebble-like debris that was deposited at the bottom of the reactor containment vessel after the meltdown caused by the earthquake and tsunami.
The exact nature of the debris is currently unknown, and examination of the retrieved debris samples will provide crucial data for the next steps in the clean-up and decommissioning of the Fukushima reactors.
The prototype has undergone extremely rigorous factory acceptance and operational testing to meet the requirements of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI), which is leading the development project. It must meet more than 300 functional, operational and dimensional requirements, and be small enough to enter the damaged containment vessel and collect debris up to 10 millimeters in size by deploying a bucket-style retrieval device.
It is expected that after testing in Japan, a radiation-resistant prototype will be built that will be able to perform sampling from a heavily contaminated reactor.
Testing has demonstrated that the operator who will be guided by the images from the built-in camera will take no more than eight minutes to insert the device into the containment and collect samples of debris. This minimizes the impact of radiation impact on the operation of the device.
According to Jacobs