Design of a Barrel Handling Mechanism for an Isolation Chamber

Photo of Justin Ju, Eric Logis, Charles Reid, Hendra Wibowo Students: Justin Ju, Eric Logis, Charles Reid, Hendra Wibowo

Sponsor: UT Austin Nuclear Engineering Teaching Laboratory

Date: Summer 2009

Requirements:
Based on the sponsor's specification, the most important requirement is "securing the barrel". This means that the proposed design must provide enough clamping force to hold the barrel against gravity without crushing it. The minimum clamping force is calculated to be 2660N and the pressure generated from this force should not exceed 205 MPa. The second most important design constraint is radiation shielding. Although the material and specific method of shielding is outside of the project scope, all the electronic components, motors, and rubber pads must be located so they can be easily shielded.

Problem:
Currently, human inspectors have to work inside an isolation chamber to inspect damaged barrels containing radioactive materials. Although the inspectors wear a radiation-proof suit, accidents may happen and cause direct exposure to radiation. The goal of this project is to replace the human inspectors working inside an isolation chamber with a mechanical system that will securely hold and manipulate barrel positions.

Solution:
The recommended concept is a forklift design with a non-standar grasper. This design can grab, lift, and rotate the barrel 360°. Although the drive train of the forklift will be supplied by the vendor, the team develop a very unique grasper that is based upon an pipe wrench mechanism. The two major components of this grasper are the stationary and moving arms. While the stationary arm is directly attached to the forklift, a motor will turn a lead screw on the moving arm, causing the jaw to open and close.

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