Jessica Tabinor industrynews
INDUSTRY NEWS | 3 MIN READ
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Find out what features an Iron Man inspired safety suit could have.
Professor Tom Scott, co-director of the Nuclear Hub discusses the inspiration behind the project.
Bristol University’s South West Nuclear Hub is collaborating with Sellafield Ltd to combine robotic technology and composite materials to create an iron man inspired safety suite. The protective gear will be worn by nuclear-decommissioning engineers working in hazardous environments.
The superhero suit will act as an armoured exoskeleton that would protect workers from radioactive contamination, whilst also reducing fatigue and providing vital information through helmet-mounted augmented reality displays.
Currently, engineers working in hazardous environments wear air-fed PVC suits, but these get so hot they can only be worn for a limited time, therefore Professor Tom Scott, co-director of the Nuclear Hub, is leading the project to develop an improved robotic-composite system.
“Sellafield is one of the biggest nuclear decommissioning challenges in the world, predicted to last 100 years and costing tens of billions of pounds. Robotic and remotely-deployed technologies are already helping the Sellafield mission, but there will always be some cases where human workers are required to do hands on work in hazardous plant areas. Our wearable suit concept offers the prospect of major improvements in worker protection and enhanced ergonomic capabilities."
"Our concept has comparisons with how space suits were developed in the 1950s; space and nuclear are both safety-critical industries. As space suits enabled transformational outcomes, making it possible for humans to go into space, further development of our suit could result in game-changing improvements in decommissioning safety and performance at Sellafield."
But what will it look like?
The suit will look completely different from the superhero’s fictional outfit; however, it could incorporate somewhat similar features.
Some key features include:
- An augmented-reality display
- It will have its own power source
- An audio system that will provide the wearer with information on the tasks they will have to perform
- Composite plates will act as a protective guard against decontamination and radiation levels
- Robotic functions such as a powered exoskeleton that will help reduce the physical load on the worker’s body should they need to lift heavy items.
(Image and video sourced via southwestnuclearhub.ac.uk )
It is believed that a fully working prototype will be developed following a review of the project early this year.