Comatec’s collaboration with Posiva continues within the framework of a new project

Comatec’s collaboration with Posiva

Comatec has been collaborating with the nuclear waste management expert Posiva for over a decade, primarily in the development of equipment used at the final disposal facility. The most significant project in recent years has been the development of the Canister Installation Machine (CIM).

In this project, we were in charge of the design, compliance and safety, as well as manufacturing supervision, support, commissioning, project management and procurement. The user responsible for the device is Posiva, whose task is the final disposal of spent nuclear waste in the bedrock of Olkiluoto at a depth of approximately 430 meters. Now we are involved in the design of a new buffer installation system.

New buffer installation system project well underway

Our partnership with Posiva continues with the design of a clay buffer installation system, for which we carried out the overall design of the new transfer device.

The buffer installation system (BIS) is a comprehensive system consisting of multiple devices. Its main task is to transport the buffer material coming from the aboveground storage to the Onkalo final disposal facility and deposit it in the final disposal hole. The BIS consists of an installation device, a transfer device, and a transport container. The installation device installs the buffer material in the final disposal hole. The transfer device transports the buffer material from the transport container to the installation device located inside the final disposal tunnel. The transport container, in turn, carries the buffer material from the aboveground storage to the Onkalo final disposal facility. The buffer material is moved from one device to the next on block pallets which roll along roller tracks on different devices.

To ensure that the block pallets can move from the transport container to the transfer device and then onward to the installation device, the roller tracks of the devices need to be aligned precisely. For this purpose, the transfer device is equipped with a separate unloading device that moves vertically and horizontally, as well as rotating around its vertical axis. Additionally, the unloading device is equipped with a positioning system that utilizes machine vision and laser sensors. This system recognizes the position of the device in front of it and aligns the roller tracks accurately. The system operates semi-automatically.

Availability problems during manufacturing tightened schedules

Posiva’s final disposal project is approaching the production phase, which imposed tight schedules on the design project. Availability of materials and components in the market was poor automation components in particular, and delivery times were significantly significantly longer than usual.

To allow for sufficient time for the manufacturing of the device, the design phase had to be shortened. A goal of three months was set for the design of the device, after which the procurement process for manufacturing had to commence. We carried out the overall design of the transfer device, including mechanical design, electrical and automation design, technical documentation, commissioning, and factory acceptance testing (FAT).

Long-term collaboration brought success

Thanks to the long-term collaboration between Comatec and Posiva, we are well acquainted with their needs and the problem field in which Posiva operates. This helped our project team to focus on the essentials and identify difficulties in advance. The project was initiated in April 2022, and by June 2022 we had delivered the design materials to commence the procurement process for manufacturing.

The device was manufactured by the Parkano-based Finnish company Supersteel. Commissioning and FAT are being conducted during the fall of 2023, and the device will be completed by the end of 2023.  After completing the design of the transfer device project, we continued with the design of the transport container, using largely the same technical solutions. The transport container has also reached the manufacturing stage already.


More information

Comatec: Harri Heikkilä,

Posiva: Jarkko Stenfors,