Design of a suction-based wall-climbing robot for installing NDT sensors on dry cask storage tanks

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2023-12

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Spent Nuclear Fuel (SNF) is contained within welded Dry Storage Canister (DSC), comprised of a stainless-steel canister encased within a concrete overpack, to effectively contain radioactive materials. As the DSC’s lifespan increases, the need for robust, comprehensive inspection and maintenance procedures becomes increasingly critical to detect and mitigate any potential degradation [1]. Traditional certification of DSCs currently relies on periodic visual inspections performed by experts, a method that has potential for enhancement through more frequent or continuous surveillance, paired with more objective and verifiable evaluation measures. Driven by these needs, the Smart Structures Lab, under the leadership of Dr. Salamone, has pioneered an innovative method for scrutinizing the condition of stainless-steel canisters. This approach employs an array of cost-effective piezoelectric sensors adhered to the canister’s surface [2]. This thesis builds upon this work by developing and evaluating a suction-based wall-climbing robot, integrated with a sensor deployment mechanism. The resulting system facilitates sensor installation, thereby enabling long-term, continuous monitoring of the DSC’s condition. This effort focuses on two novel requirements for this task relative to other wall climbing robots: maintaining adhesion with low clearances (< 4”) on non-ferromagnetic curved surfaces and robustly deploying sensors for long-term data collection.

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