Eadon Consulting is proving it’s one to watch

14 May 2020

With growing capabilities in the nuclear sector and its innovative approach to decommissioning challenges – Sheffield-based company, Eadon Consulting, is proving it’s one to watch.

The company’s ability to find novel ways of solving problems has recently won it several opportunities with Sellafield.

The development of REACH, (a Remote Extendable Access, Characterisation and Handling solution for the inspection and characterisation of nuclear facilities) is a current research and development project for Eadon. The team designed REACH in response to Sellafield’s call for technical solutions to aid Post Operational Clean Out (POCO), the final phase in a nuclear plant’s life before decommissioning can begin.

One of the difficulties at Sellafield is that the only access into the cells is through a 150mm diameter port. Eadon recognised that in order to get sensors or tools inside to the right location they needed a modular way of deploying them.

James Hill, Director a Eadon Consulting said:

“Nobody was looking at how you could do that, or if they were, it would be a one-off deployment. The whole point behind REACH is that it’s a modular access system.

“A challenge with POCO is finding out how active the cell is to start with and how much that has reduced when the cleaning process has finished. At the moment it’s very difficult for them to know this information, so it’s all about giving them an easier tool for doing it.”

The team showcased REACH at a feasibility demonstration. They showed how a small camera could be carried along a track by a carriage driven by motors and controlled by a mobile phone app. The track fitted through a small cell port and could be assembled easily in a confined space – showing how areas currently very difficult to work in can be accessed.

REACH could potentially be used on a bigger scale. If access space was bigger it could be put together differently to take heavier payloads. It could also be adapted for remote inspection and used in other sectors for doing similar jobs.

Still in the design stage, REACH may help significantly with a range of tasks including measurement of radiation levels, cleaning and cutting operations.

A further industry challenge recognised by Eadon is the future cost of waste containers. At Sellafield alone they’re forecasting that they will need up to 500 or 600 waste containers a year for decades. Eadon responded with a joint venture in collaboration with Arc Energy Resources, ‘Capsa Solutions’ – a new approach to waste container design; developed to meet the challenges of broad front nuclear decommissioning with emphasis on safety, simplicity and cost efficiency.

The team recognised that the existing containers weren’t designed for volume production so they took a fresh approach, designing a superior container from scratch that could be produced in a quicker and cheaper way. James explained:

“It was important for us to take the whole lifecycle of the container into consideration, from the raw material, through to it being shipped from the factory, to how it can be moved around on site and how filling it can be made easier, safer and faster. We considered how it can be closed and then shipped to a geological disposal site – all of these things have been taken into account to ensure all the steps and processes are as easy, quick and safe as possible.”

Late last year, Eadon Consulting were also awarded Sellafield LINC opportunity 19. A problem became apparent during an underwater survey when an obstruction in front of a bay entrance in one of the storage ponds was discovered. The metal object was preventing ROV access required for decommissioning activities. Sellafield needed a method of remotely cutting and removing the obstruction.

“It’s an interesting challenge because you have to deploy a tool about 5 to 6 metres underwater remotely. Also, operators need to be able to use it wearing full PPE. We found using a small-scale, long-reach, 0.5mm diamond wire cutter to be the most effective method because it was both lightweight to deploy and it also minimised the amount of disturbance in the water.”

The team have completed detailed design work and are now into prototyping the actual machine.

Eadon have grown their R&D expertise and capability over the last three years through the delivery of a number of innovative projects. Going forward, this is supporting the growth of the business into new areas and broadening their client base.