A new project announced will see Unmanned Aerial Systems (UASs) used in the early detection of marine ingress events near coastal industries, such as nuclear power stations.
The Cranfield University and EDF pathfinder plans to establish the feasibility of Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) operations, within a regulatory and safety context for the use of drones near nuclear plants, for early detection of marine (i.e. jellyfish and kelp) ingress.
Routine wide area data capture by drones could form part of an early warning system, which will allow the adjustment of water-cooling mechanisms to protect both electricity generation and the environment.
Cranfield University and EDF, one of the UK’s largest energy companies, will deliver this project in partnership with SME Caintech, the Smith Institute and with funding support from The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).
The consortium will first optimise wide-area UAS monitoring protocols using statistical and mathematical techniques, which will include an academic review of the benefits of Extended Visual Line of Sight (EVLOS) / BVLOS operations, within the context of marine ingress detection.
The programme will then undertake BVLOS UAS trials near an EDF nuclear power station later in the year to detect jellyfish and kelp blooms.
The project is part of UK Drones Pathfinder Programme, which is sponsored by the Department for Transport (DfT) and takes a phased approach to achieving routine use of drones within the UK, identifying and overcoming the technical, operational, and commercial barriers for bringing new BVLOS services to the UK.
Angus Bloomfield, marine biology consultant at EDF said: “Any industry on the coast which uses seawater can find its operations complicated when seaweed or jellyfish blooms impact protective systems.”
Adding: “They can damage machinery and even stop power generation, which could threaten stability of the electricity grid. An early warning system involving drones could allow industries in marine environments to act early and avoid the most dramatic effects these events can bring.”
The Drones Pathfinder Programme is managed by the Connected Places Catapult in partnership with the Department of Transport (DfT) and supported by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA)