National Nuclear Laboratory


Sunday 25 May 2014

New Shielded Microscope at Windscale Laboratory

A cross-lab team have successfully installed and commissioned a new optical microscope within the shielded cell facilities at NNL’s Windscale Laboratory, Sellafield.The remotely operated microscope supports the inspection of highly radioactive materials such as irradiated nuclear fuel.The commissioning is the culmination of an extensive scoping and development programme aimed at improving the service we offer to our customers. The work involved working closely with a specialist supplier to ensure delivery of an instrument suitable for operation in a highly radioactive environment.

Particular care was required to consider the effects of radiation on critical parts of the microscope and what modifications might be required to allow remote operation and maintenance.Prior to on-plant commissioning, the microscope was put through a rigorous non-radioactive trial at NNL’s Central Laboratory. This was to ensure it performed as expected.Metallography team manager, Suzy Morgan commented:”The new microscope will increase both the throughput and quality achievable from the facility. And, in addition, automated functionality will speed up routine examinations and modern data handling will reduce potential errors associated with transcription of measurement results. This is great news for customers, who will benefit from a faster, more efficient and better quality service from NNL.”