A pair of autonomous robots developed by Carnegie Mellon University's Robotics Institute will soon be driving through miles of pipes at the U.S. Department of Energy's former uranium enrichment plant in Piketon, Ohio, to identify uranium deposits on pipe walls. The CMU robot has demonstrated it can measure radiation levels more accurately from inside the pipe than is possible with external techniques. In addition to savings in labor costs, its use significantly reduces hazards to workers who otherwise must perform external measurements by hand, garbed in protective gear and using lifts or scaffolding to reach elevated pipes. DOE officials estimate the robots could save tens of millions of dollars in completing the characterization of uranium deposits at the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant in Piketon, and save perhaps $50 million at a similar uranium enrichment plant in Paducah, Kentucky. "This will transform the way measurements of uranium deposits are made from now on," predicted William "Red" Whittaker, robotics professor and director of the Field Robotics Center.
To realize efficient computational fluid dynamics (CFD) prediction of two-phase flow, a multi-scale framework was proposed in this paper by applying a physics-guided data-driven approach. Instrumental to this framework, Feature Similarity Measurement (FSM) technique was developed for error estimation in two-phase flow simulation using coarse-mesh CFD, to achieve a comparable accuracy as fine-mesh simulations with fast-running feature. By defining physics-guided parameters and variable gradients as physical features, FSM has the capability to capture the underlying local patterns in the coarse-mesh CFD simulation. Massive low-fidelity data and respective high-fidelity data are used to explore the underlying information relevant to the main simulation errors and the effects of phenomenological scaling. By learning from previous simulation data, a surrogate model using deep feedforward neural network (DFNN) can be developed and trained to estimate the simulation error of coarse-mesh CFD. The research documented supports the feasibility of the physics-guided deep learning methods for coarse mesh CFD simulations which has a potential for the efficient industrial design.
University of Southern California (Los Angeles, CA): Developing novel data-driven predictive models for integration into real-time fault detection and diagnosis, and integrate those models by using predictive control algorithms to improve the efficiency of energy production operations in a geothermal power plant. The project will develop deep dynamic neural networks for fault prediction and predictive process control workflows to improve the efficiency of geothermal operations. Upflow Limited (Taupo, New Zealand): Making available multiple decades of closely-guarded production data from one of the world's longest operating geothermal fields, and combining it with the archives from the largest geothermal company operating in the U.S. Models developed from this massive data store will enable the creation of a prediction/recommendation engine that will help operators improve plant availability. Colorado School of Mines (Golden, CO): Applying new machine learning techniques to analyze remote-sensing images, with the goal of developing a process to identify the presence of blind geothermal resources based on surface characteristics. Colorado School of Mines will develop a methodology to automatically label data from hyperspectral images of Brady's Hot Springs, Desert Rock, and the Salton Sea.
Miles of contaminated pipe must be measured, foot by foot, as part of the decommissioning effort at deactivated gaseous diffusion enrichment facilities. The current method requires cutting away asbestos-lined thermal enclosures and performing repeated, elevated operations to manually measure pipe from the outside. The RadPiper robot, part of the Pipe Crawling Activity Measurement System (PCAMS) developed by Carnegie Mellon University and commissioned for use at the DOE Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Enrichment Facility, automatically measures U-235 in pipes from the inside. This improves certainty, increases safety, and greatly reduces measurement time. The heart of the RadPiper robot is a sodium iodide scintillation detector in an innovative disc-collimated assembly. By measuring from inside pipes, the robot significantly increases its count rate relative to external through-pipe measurements. The robot also provides imagery, models interior pipe geometry, and precisely measures distance in order to localize radiation measurements. Data collected by this system provides insight into pipe interiors that is simply not possible from exterior measurements, all while keeping operators safer. This paper describes the technical details of the PCAMS RadPiper robot. Key features for this robot include precision distance measurement, in-pipe obstacle detection, ability to transform for two pipe sizes, and robustness in autonomous operation. Test results demonstrating the robot's functionality are presented, including deployment tolerance tests, safeguarding tests, and localization tests. Integrated robot tests are also shown.