James Fisher Nuclear Highly Commended by The Engineer Magazine.

The Engineering team at James Fisher Nuclear (JFN) and the Sellafield Ltd Pile Fuel Storage Ponds (PFSP) project team are celebrating being highly commended by The Engineer magazine in their ‘Collaborate to Innovate’ awards.

The commendation was given in the Energy, Efficiency and Sustainability category for JFN’s work with buoyancy bags within the Sellafield Ltd PFSP as part of the programme to decommission the structure.

Used extensively for off-shore applications, these Commercial Off The Shelf (COTS) buoyancy bags were identified as a potential solution to moving large items between the decanner area, where fuel rods were stripped of their outer metallic casing, and the withdrawal bays within the PFSP facility. As part of the iterative and collaborative process a means to deploy and control their inflation/deflation was developed and optimised through trials within the JFN test tank. These have now been used extensively and successfully within the PFSP facility to move items remotely. Attaching the bags to underwater items provides sufficient buoyancy to allow manual movement (by means of supplied long reach tools or simple rope) between the bays. The simplest and most flexible attachment technique is to use more COTS equipment in the form of pneumatically controlled permanent rare-earth magnets. The control system for the inflation and deflation of the buoyancy bags and the operation of the magnets is through a portable panel connected to the plant compressed air supply. The panel is designed to be hooked onto the pond railings at the work location, and can easily be operated by personnel wearing full personal protective equipment (PPE).

The Lead Mechanical Engineer on the project James Cruickshank said:

“The Buoyancy bag project is an excellent example of how working with the client at every stage, and making clever use of existing technology, can create an effective solution. Creative thinking from both Sellafield Ltd and ourselves has helped us to make real progress in addressing one of the most challenging clean-up projects in the UK.”


Sellafield Ltd Project Manager David Birks commented that “This project is an excellent example of how effective partnering with the supply chain can deliver results rapidly and safely in line with Sellafield’s decommissioning mind-set. The whole team have often gone beyond the call of duty, working late and pushing work on to meet challenging delivery dates. The good use of simple mock-ups in the JFN rig hall was especially useful to identify and refine solutions.”

The Engineer Magazine recognised in its commendation that by adopting a collaborative and innovative mindset real savings in time, money and resources can be achieved, helping Sellafield Ltd to continue to deal safely and efficiently with its legacy waste and protect our environment . James Fisher Nuclear continues to help the Nuclear industry to move forward and develop technologies to improve how we manage our nuclear estate and maintain the viability of nuclear energy for the future as a much needed low carbon source of energy. 

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