Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University's Robotics Institute, working under a $2 million contract from the DOE Federal Energy Technology Center (FETC), have developed a crawling robot known as BOA that removes asbestos from the outsides of pipes.

The robot has been designed to meet OSHA and state and local regulatory requirements for particulates. It offers the first safe, economical, mechanical solution to removing asbestos insulation in older buildings. EPA regulations require that buildings containing asbestos insulation cannot be demolished or renovated until the asbestos is removed, and asbestos particulate must be contained while removal is underway.

BOA is placed on vertical or horizontal piping by remote control. It crawls along on the outside of the pipes and chews off the insulation materials. It wets them, encapsulates the stripped pipe with a fast drying adhesive to capture microscopic particulate and bags the removed insulation at the site.
As the robot chews, a vacuum hose sucks the material and waste water away for reuse later. An off- board support logistics system supplies power to the robot and provides a user support interface.

Human abatement costs about $100 a linear foot. The robot operates at a rate of 30 feet per hour -- about 10 times faster than a person can--and is expected to achieve a 30-50 percent cost savings compared to traditional containment techniques.

For information on the robot, contact: Anne Watzman at Carnegie Mellon (412) 268-3830 or V.J. Kothari, Federal Energy Technology Center (304) 285-4579

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