Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Carnegie Mellon Researchers Develop Robot That Chews Asbestos Off Of Pipes

Date:
March 20, 1998
Source:
Carnegie Mellon University
Summary:
Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University's Robotics Institute, working under a $2 million contract from the Department of Energy's (DoE) Federal Energy Technology Center (FETC) in Morgantown, W. Va., have developed a crawling robot known as BOA that removes asbestos from the outsides of pipes. The device is part of a robotics technology development program initiated by DoE to help decontaminate and clean up its nuclear weapons sites and other polluted areas.

PITTSBURGH--Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University's Robotics Institute, working under a $2 million contract from the Department of Energy's (DoE) Federal Energy Technology Center (FETC) in Morgantown, W. Va., have developed a crawling robot known as BOA that removes asbestos from the outsides of pipes.

The device is part of a robotics technology development program initiated by DoE to help decontaminate and clean up its nuclear weapons sites and other polluted areas.

V.J. Kothari, FETC's technical monitor for the project, says the robot has been designed to meet OSHA and all state and local regulatory requirements for airborne particle emissions. It offers the first safe, economical, mechanical solution to one of the nation's most pressing environmental problems--removing asbestos insulation in older buildings. EPA regulations require that buildings containing asbestos insulation cannot be demolished or renovated until the highly carcinogenic material is removed, and asbestos particulate must be contained while removal is underway.

BOA was conceived by Robotics Institute Systems Scientist Hagen Schempf and developed over the past three years by a team of students and technicians under his direction.

"Most of the steam and process piping in DoE facilities is insulated with asbestos-containing materials," says Schempf. "They have to be removed before any decontamination and dismantling can take place. Up to now, asbestos abatement has been done by humans. DoE was looking for a better, safer, faster and cheaper way to do it."

BOA is placed on vertical or horizontal piping by remote control. Then, it crawls along on the outside of the pipes and chews off the insulation materials. It wets them, encapsulates the stripped pipe with a fast drying adhesive to capture microscopic particulate and bags the removed insulation at the site. As the robot chews, a vacuum hose sucks the material and waste water away for reuse later. An off-board support logistics system supplies power to the robot and provides a user support interface.

BOA was demonstrated last summer at DoE's Oak Ridge National Laboratory. It will be field tested again at another site in May.

The BOA project got underway in 1994. The challenge, says Schempf, was to build an automatic system containing sensors, actuators, computers and cutting equipment that was small enough, yet capable enough to handle hazardous, loose material in a constrained environment.

Schempf feels the system has commercial potential.

"Today," he says, "the only competition for BOA is humans." Human abatement costs about $100 a linear foot. The robot operates at a rate of 30 feet per hour-- about 10 times faster than a person can--and is expected to achieve a 30-50 percent cost savings compared to traditional containment techniques.

BOA has taken second place in a national design competition sponsored by the trade publication "Design News." It was chosen from more than 100 entries and cited as one of the most innovative new product designs developed in the U.S. in 1997. The robot will be on display at the National Design Engineering Show and Conference in Chicago, March 16-19.

Kothari notes that FETC has been working with Robotics Institute researchers on solutions to DoE decontamination problems for more than five years. In addition to BOA, DoE is using two other robots that evolved from robotics research at Carnegie Mellon--Rosie, a long-reach, remote work vehicle for decontamination and decommissioning that has been commercialized by RedZone Robotics, Inc., a Pittsburgh-based university spinoff, and Houdini, a reconfigurable work machine being used at the Argonne and Oak Ridge National laboratories to remove radioactive sludge from storage tanks.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Carnegie Mellon University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Carnegie Mellon University. "Carnegie Mellon Researchers Develop Robot That Chews Asbestos Off Of Pipes." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 March 1998. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/03/980320080352.htm>.
Carnegie Mellon University. (1998, March 20). Carnegie Mellon Researchers Develop Robot That Chews Asbestos Off Of Pipes. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 16, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/03/980320080352.htm
Carnegie Mellon University. "Carnegie Mellon Researchers Develop Robot That Chews Asbestos Off Of Pipes." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/03/980320080352.htm (accessed September 16, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Manufacturer Prints 3-D Car In Record Time

Manufacturer Prints 3-D Car In Record Time

Newsy (Sep. 15, 2014) — Automobile manufacturer Local Motors created a drivable electric car using a 3-D printer. Printing the body only took 44 hours. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Refurbished New York Subway Tunnel Unveiled After Sandy Damage

Refurbished New York Subway Tunnel Unveiled After Sandy Damage

Reuters - US Online Video (Sep. 15, 2014) — New York officials unveil subway tunnels that were refurbished after Superstorm Sandy. Nathan Frandino reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Frustration As Drone Industry Outpaces Regulation In U.S.

Frustration As Drone Industry Outpaces Regulation In U.S.

Newsy (Sep. 14, 2014) — U.S. firms worry they’re falling behind in the marketplace as the FAA considers how to regulate commercial drones. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Smart Gun Innovators Fear Backlash From Gun Rights Advocates

Smart Gun Innovators Fear Backlash From Gun Rights Advocates

Newsy (Sep. 14, 2014) — Winners of a contest for smart gun design are asking not to be named after others in the industry received threats for marketing similar products. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins