Subscribe to our newsletter to receive the latest news and events from TWI:

Subscribe >
Skip to content

Nuclear Decommissioning at Sellafield using LaserSnake

TWI has successfully completed the size reduction of an active dissolver cell from the First Generation Reprocessing Plant at Sellafield using laser cutting - a new development which could transform the approach to dismantling redundant nuclear equipment, leading to significant cost and time savings.

The LaserSnake combines TWI’s high powered laser cutting technology with an OC Robotics snake-arm robot, giving a decommissioning tool with the dexterity required to work in high-hazard confined nuclear environments and the safe, precise size reduction process. It also meets the rigorous safety requirements of both Sellafield Ltd and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority.

The rapid laser size reduction process produces minimal fume with a low dispersion of fume particles, and reduces the production of other secondary waste streams as no operator suits or contaminated hand equipment are put into the waste chain. Operator exposure to contamination is eliminated through remote operation, and economic savings can be made due to its high productivity, reliability, and reduced secondary waste.

TWI has worked with Industrial Member OC Robotics to develop a system that is reusable, reliable, robust, safe, and cost efficient, while the rapid process offers huge savings over incumbent mechanical and thermal processes.

LaserSnake was developed primarily to benefit nuclear decommissioning, but has wide-ranging capabilities on any decommissioning project with restricted access and aggressive environments, such as chemical plants, bridges, and offshore platforms.

Funded by Innovate UK, the LaserSnake project won the Technology/Innovation Implementation Award at the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority Supply Chain Awards in November 2016, recognising the innovation and collaboration required to take technology innovation through to successful implementation at a Site License Company.

For more information, please email

Laser Snake
Laser Snake
Avatar Dr Jon Blackburn Strategic Capability Development Manager

Jon is TWI’s Strategic Capability Development Manager, ensuring TWI is well positioned to support its Industrial Members future needs. In addition, he leads TWI’s hydrogen economy strategy. Jon has a background in Mechanical Engineering, a doctorate in Manufacturing Engineering, and prior to joining TWI worked in the Canadian pulp industry in the province of Alberta during their planned shutdown and maintenance periods. He joined TWI in 2006, and has held leadership positions in TWI’s Advanced Manufacturing, Materials and Structural Integrity activities. Outside of TWI, Jon is a President of the UK's Association of Industrial Laser Users.