One of the North East’s leading independent engineering companies – Red Marine – has successfully transferred its world class offshore engineering expertise to develop an innovative remotely operated vehicle concept for the nuclear decommissioning sector.
Named the STOBOT – after its creator Mark Stobo, a Senior Engineer at Red Marine – the unique submersible vehicle will be developed to remove sludge, residuals and debris from storage ponds at nuclear power stations.
The company is confident that its innovative solution will offer a step change in productivity when decommissioning nuclear waste storage facilities such as the B29 and B30 ponds at Sellafield.
Speaking about the concept, Joe Orrell, Managing Director at Hexham based Red Marine said: “Having reviewed a number of the challenges facing the nuclear decommissioning industry, we have developed a game changing solution for this specific application, drawing on proven technologies from the oil and gas sector.”
The 2m long tracked STOBOT vehicle can excavate sludge using both a backhoe and a front mounted scoop arrangement. This reduces sludge disturbance and water separation issues in comparison to alternative dredging solutions. Material is then transported via an export conveyor to a skip system which is used to transfer the excavated sludge to the processing location.
The vehicle is part of a complete package with its own dedicated launch and recovery system, umbilical management system and decontamination system.
Joe added: “The STOBOT is a versatile and robust work platform with significantly more load capacity than a traditional flying ROV. We believe the vehicle will be beneficial to the sector due to its unique ability to be reconfigured for a wide range of pond decommissioning tasks including cutting, drilling and breaking.”
Red Marine is currently in discussion with potential development partners within the nuclear industry regarding the build and testing of a working prototype.
“We have always been a firm believer in utilising practical testing to help de-risk and speed the delivery of first of kind technical solutions,” Joe said “With our proven manufacturing capabilities and our in-house test facility, we believe it is possible to be testing the first unit within 9 months.”
The development of the STOBOT is part of a wider company strategy to continue its growth by diversifying into the nuclear decommissioning sector.
Joe added: “We are confident that our proven engineering processes, together with our knowledge of remote intervention and product handling can be applied into the nuclear decommissioning sector very effectively; enabling acceleration of critical programmes, significantly reducing time at risk and giving real project cost savings.”
Established in 2008, Red Marine has a global reputation for saving its clients time and money by the rapid delivery of intelligent engineering solutions to complex challenges. Current customers include FMC Technologies, GE Oil & Gas, Subsea 7 and Technip.