On the Sellafield site there are several legacy storage tanks and silos containing sludge of uncertain properties. While there are efforts to determine the chemical and radiological properties of the sludge, to clean out and decommission these vessels, the physical properties need to be ascertained as well. Shear behaviour, density and temperature are the key parameters to be understood before decommissioning activities commence. However, limited access, the congested nature of the tanks and presence of radioactive, hazardous substances severely limit sampling and usage of sophisticated characterisation devices within these tanks and therefore, these properties remain uncertain. This paper describes the development of a cheap, compact, and robust device to analyse the rheological properties of sludge, without the need to extract materials from the site in order to be analysed. Analysis of a sludge test material has been performed to create a suitable benchmark material for the rheological measurements with the prototype. Development of the device is being undertaken with commercial off the shelf (COTS) components and modern rapid prototyping techniques. Using these techniques, an initial prototype for measuring shear parameters of sludge has been developed, using a micro-controller for remote control and data gathering. The device is also compact enough to fit through a 75 mm opening, maximising deployment capabilities.
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