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Poeten and OC Robotics - Coatings for Challenging Functional & Working Environments

CANDU SchematicTrevor Amos, Sales Manager said,

"Poeton have supported OC Robotics over many years, offering coating support to provide wear & corrosion resistant Apticote finishes, ones that would meet the challenging functional and working environments of both the components and the final equipment. Poeton were able to use their R&D expertise to test and indentify a number of key Apticote finishes and apply these to test samples. This ensured the optimum coating, meeting the customer requirement in production, and we are proud to be able to have played a part in the success of this innovative UK Technology company."

Nuclear snake-arm robots

In May 2010 OC Robotics and OPG IM&CS completed the first deployment of a new snake-arm robot designed to conduct inspections within the Upper Feeder Cabinets of CANDU reactors.

SAFIRE Snake-arm

SAFIRE Snake-armThe 2.2m long 25mm wide snake-arm is mounted on a mobile vehicle which is driven remotely along walkways in the FC. The snake-arm is stowed, coiled for compactness, then deployed by unwinding and nose-following between the pipes. The snake-arm can be deployed at any angle to reach below or above the walkway. Tool mounted cameras are used for navigation and image capture. PTZ cameras on the mobile and base units provide scene views and additional inspection capability.

Upper Feeder Cabinet (UFC)

CANDU-UFCThe UFC contains primary coolant pipework and is located a few meters above the reactor face. During operation, pressurised D20 enters the reactor fuel channels at 250ºC and exits at 290ºC. The UFC cools to 40ºC during an outage. Radiation hazards include hot spots, contamination and Tritium (hence air suits). Dose rates are 100 to 400 mRem/hour. The UFC is also a confined space with some crawl-only access and limited space to turn around.


SAFIRE is designed to reduce operator dose and increase the amount and quality of captured data. SAFIRE is a table, controllable platform from which to acquire video and still images. It is designed to reach 100% of the UFC. Real time remote control enables feedback, thought and learning. Sub-optimal air suits are replaced with ‘calm control’.

SAFIRE in operationOperation

Set-up was completed in 70 minutes from first entry into the vault to remote operation. Tear-down took 30 minutes. SAFIRE completed the pre-defined inspection scope in one 12 hour shift. 24/7 multi-day deployments using teams of operators are planned for future outages.


The first deployment at OPG’s Pickering plant achieved all the target objectives including set-up and tear down times, operator dose reduction and the full inspection scope. SAFIRE enables improved data collection and reduces operator dose. Deployment of additional NDT tools is planned.

06 July 2010

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