Explosion protection The Rise of Robots: This Bot is the First to Send in Case of Petrochemical Accidents

Editor: Dominik Stephan

Entering the site of a petrochemical accident poses severe risks due to the danger of explosive atmospheres – what better then to send a robot instead? A Japanese development team has constructed a remotely operated robot for data collection and light works in hazardous ares…

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The Sakura 2 explosion proof robot
The Sakura 2 explosion proof robot
(Picture: Mitsubishi)

Tokyo/Japan – The team consisting of engineers from Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and scientists of the Chiba Institute of Technology (CIT) have built the first mobile robot in Japan with an official anti-explosive certificate: The new "Sakura No. 2 (anti-explosive model)" features a greatly reduced risk of electrical spark or heat creation that can cause explosions or fire when inflammable gas is present. It shall be used for safe and efficient data collection, inspection and light work in environments that require equipment to be anti-explosive such as tunnel accidents and petrochemical plants.

Enter the Sakura No. 2

The robot is based on the "Sakura No. 2" robot developed by CIT that has built up experience in applications such as accident resolution support activities in nuclear power plants, and the advanced anti-explosive design has been realized by utilizing MHI's broad technical capabilities in industrial fields.

Certified for Explosive Areas

It received outsourcing support and assistance from the "Project to develop systems to handle the social challenges of infrastructure maintenance management and renewal" of The New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) and passed the anti-explosive model inspection of the Technology Institution of Industrial Safety (TIIS) in Japan.

Further, it is planned to obtain anti-explosive certification based on the ATEX Directive that is widely adopted in Europe and around the world.

Explosion Proofing the Batteries

In order to make the robot anti-explosive, the pressure resistant anti-explosive casing that houses components such as the lithium ion batteries and BMS (battery management system) and the casing for the electrical parts such as the motor and controller have a higher internal pressure than the external atmosphere, giving a two-fold internal pressure plus pressure resistant anti-explosive protection. This means that inflammable gases cannot penetrate to the interior of the casing due to the pressure difference, and if the casing internal pressure drops, for example if the casing is damaged, this is detected and the power supply is cut off.

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