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Fukushima Scorpion robot probe number 2 sent by TEPCO fails while exploring unit two reactor

Fukushima Scorpion Toshiba
Photo by Toshiba

The second Fukushima Scorpion robot probe Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) sent into Fukushima’s unit 2 nuclear reactor has failed to finish its mission. Earlier this month, the cameras of the first Fukushima Scorpion robot that ventured into the reactor malfunctioned after two hours due to extremely high nuclear radiation levels.

Now, it’s the probe 2 robot’s left crawler belt that stopped working (PDF) altogether, forcing TEPCO to cut off its costsr and to decide to leave it inside the reactor.

Toshiba designed these Fukushima Scorpion robots specifically to examine Unit 2’s condition and to locate the melted uranium fuel within. The information, if gathered, would help TEPCO figure out the best and importantly the safest way to clean up.

Every little thing will help, after all, since the company chose to stick to its cleanup schedule even though both Fukushima Scorpion exploration missions failed. It will begin conjuring up plans for fuel removal this summer and will start the actual cleanup process in 2021. But before that, TEPCO will send a tiny underwater robot to explore the Unit 1 reactor in the next few weeks.

The power company still isn’t sure whether the robot’s crawler belt stopped working due to the radiation levels inside or due to all the debris the first machine wasn’t able to clear. It managed to send some data back, though, and TEPCO plans to evaluate whatever information it got.

About the Toshiba Fukushima Scorpion Robot

Video by Toshiba - Youtube

Toshiba and the International Research Institute for Nuclear Decommissioning (IRID) developed a small robot to investigate the interior of the primary containment vessel (PCV) of Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station Unit 2.

Developing procedures and methodologies for removing fuel debris from the PCV requires an understanding of its distribution. The Fukushima Scorpion robot will be used to determine the location and positioning of fallen objects, if any, and conditions along access routes to the PCV base.

The Scorpion robot is approximately 54cm long and 9cm high and wide, and is equipped with two cameras powered by LED lights, a radiation dosimeter and a thermometer. Remotely operated by a wired cable, the robot will enter the PCV along a pipe approximately 10cm in diameter.

LED lights and CCD cameras are attached to both the front and rear of the robot. Once the robot reaches a point near the center of the PCV, the operator will raise the rear section, like the tail of a scorpion and video the interior of the PCV: the robot will illuminate its surroundings with the LED lights, and swivel its rear to capture a wide area of the PCV, even in darkness or fumes. The robot is designed to be self-righting, so rollovers are not a concern.

Source: EnGadget / Toshiba

Photo by Toshiba - Fukushima Scorpion