One of the major functions of the TORONE project is to provide remote characterisation in order to identify materials in areas that it isn’t safe to enter in order to assist in the decommissioning process.
It was identified that two of the best ways to characterise materials were through LIBS and RAMAN Spectroscopy, with RAMAN focussing on the Molecular make-up of materials, and LIBS providing an elemental breakdown. (For information on how these work check out our Technologies and Approaches page). We spoke to Dr Paul Coffey to run us through some of the decisions and work that has gone in to selecting and creating our characterisation sensors.
The biggest issue faced by the TORONE team in developing the LIBs and RAMAN sensors that will be used on the robot was limiting the size in order to easily fit on a robotic platform. These sensors are usually quite large, and based in a laboratory setting, so can have a considerable weight, whereas a portable sensor needs to be lightweight. This has led to creation of smaller systems that can be easily mounted onto the robotic platform, as well as transported to where they are required.
A further issue with being a portable system for both LIBS and RAMAN is the access to a power supply, with a robot having a limited battery supply, where a standard lab based system will have access to mains power. This has mean that the TORONE team have had to make sure that the highest quality laser is being used in order to make stand-off measurements, while also not being too power intensive.
In spite of this, the team have managed to create smaller systems that can be mounted to the robot platform, and are therefore portable, while also providing highly accurate readings. This will allow the autonomous robot to be sent off to measure the composition of a wide variety of materials, in a variety of areas across a nuclear site with minimal supervision due to the limited risk of loss of battery power, due to lower weights and a lower power consumption.
If you would like to know more about the TORONE project, have a look around our website, or ask us a question below, or on our Twitter.