Page last updated at 10:12 GMT, Thursday, 8 April 2010 11:12 UK

Sofa aid for nuclear 'hedgehog'

Dounreay hedgehog. Image: DSRL
The "hedgehog" was built to probe the inside of a shutdown reactor

A design engineer at Dounreay has used the castors off his own living room couch to stop a machine dubbed the "hedgehog" from toppling over.

The device was built to probe radioactivity levels and shoot video inside the defunct Caithness nuclear complex's Prototype Fast Reactor (PFR).

In tests, the device kept toppling over when turning corners.

However, senior design engineer Calder Bain used the castors to stabilise the "hedgehog".

He said: "A considerable amount of innovation was required to build the Prototype Fast Reactor and there will be a continual requirement for pioneering methods to take a reactor of this complexity apart.

"This type of work gives both our young and experienced engineers the opportunity to put their innovative skills and knowledge into practice."

Previously, household products have been used to help clean plutonium stains and other contamination from equipment at the plant.

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