A new centre of excellence for Remote Applications in Challenging Environments at Culham Science Centre in Oxfordshire is now open to users and has already won its first major contract.
When fully operational, RACE will conduct R&D into remote applications and will offer access to state-of-the-art facilities, remote handling equipment and expertise to design, implement, train and operate complete solutions.
End users and their supply chains will be able to develop technology for operations in hazardous environments that include nuclear, oil and gas, sub-sea, space and construction.
Projects are underway in an existing laboratory on the Culham site, with planning permission submitted for a purpose-built 3,000 square metre facility. Access is available to all: SMEs, multinationals, research laboratories or academia; access models will be tailored to the specific requirements of the user.
RACE’s first significant contract is with an Assystem-led consortium developing remote handling technology for the ITER international fusion experiment in Cadarache, France. RACE will support design, development, testing and operation of remote maintenance / robotic equipment for one of ITER’s key components – the ‘divertor’ exhaust system that ejects waste from the reactor.
The RACE facility brings together a broad range of expertise from the UK Atomic Energy Authority and its partners the National Nuclear Laboratory, TWI, the National Physical Laboratory and the Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre.
RACE’s director, Dr Rob Buckingham, said: “RACE will offer its customers the technical support to use the world’s best robotics to solve problems in their challenging environments. I am excited about leading RACE and there is no better place for it than Culham, with its tremendous expertise in remote handling.”