At a special facility in west Brisbane, the country’s top scientific institution quietly puts robots to work to see if they can carry out their mission to protect the world’s nuclear waste.
CSIRO has worked with the International Atomic Energy Agency to develop a robot called the Robotic Cherenkov Display Device (RCVD) over the past four years.
Rosie Attwell, technical program manager at CSIRO, said they finally got to a point where they could keep RCVD running at its pace.
“It was developed at CSIRO’s Queensland Center for Advanced Technologies in Pullenvale and has worked very well,” she said.
“The recent very successful field test at an operating nuclear facility in South America shows that there is potential to go further.”
Nuclear power plants produce large and reliable power outputs, but have the disadvantage of producing highly radioactive waste that must be stored safely.
After use, the radioactive fuel rods used in the power plant are taken to special pools to cool down, and after the first radiation is released harmlessly in the water, they are transported to the long-term facility.
These pools must be constantly monitored by official nuclear inspectors, and Atwell said their burden is often heavy.
“Safety inspectors spend about 100 days a year on the road just to get to these sites, and then when they get there they can do a continuous five-kilometer walk a day,” she said. said.
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