Toshiba today unveiled a remote-controlled robot which it hopes will be able to probe inside one of the three damaged reactors at Japan’s ill-fated Fukushima nuclear power plant. The ultimate aim is to be able to grip chunks of the melted fuel, which is highly radioactive, with this robot.
Some of you might be well aware that the three reactors at the Fukushima plant had core meltdowns after the complex was damaged by a tsunami in 2011. The natural disaster damaged important cooling systems which resulted in the core meltdowns.
The robot has been designed to slide down an extendable 11 meter long pipe and grip melted fuel inside the Unit 2 reactor’s primary containment vessel. The reactor itself was built by both Toshiba and GE.
A probe sent earlier with a camera was able to capture images of melted fuel in the reactor. Robotic probes sent in the other two reactors were able to detect traces of damaged fuel but were not able to help in figuring out the exact location of the highly radioactive fuel.
Toshiba has said that it will conduct experiments with this new robot next month to ascertain the additional equipment and technologies required to remove the fuel debris. This is the most challenging part of the decommissioning process that’s expected to take decades.