Optimal Packing of Irregular 3D Objects For Transportation and Disposal
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This research developed algorithms, platforms, and workflows that can optimize the packing of 3D irregular objects while guaranteeing an acceptable processing time for real-life problems, including but not limited to nuclear waste packing optimization. Many nuclear power plants (NPPs) are approaching their end of intended design life, and approximately half of existing NPPs will be shut down in the next two decades. Since decommissioning and demolition of these NPPs will lead to a significant increase in waste inventory, there is an escalating demand for technologies and processes that can efficiently manage the decommissioning and demolition (D&D) activities, especially optimal packing of NPP waste. To minimize the packing volume of NPP waste, the objective is to arrange irregular-shaped waste objects into one or a set of containers such that container volume utilization is maximized, or container size is minimized. Constraints also include weight and radiation limits per container imposed by transportation requirements and the waste acceptance requirements of storage facilities and repositories. This problem falls under the theoretical realm of cutting and packing problems, precisely, the 3D irregular packing problem. Despite its broad applications and substantial potential, research on 3D irregular cutting and packing problems is still nascent, and largely absent in construction and civil engineering. Finding good solutions for real-life problems, such as the one mentioned above, through current approaches is computationally expensive and time-consuming. New algorithms and technologies, and processes are required. This research adopted 3D scanning as a means of geometry acquisition of as-is 3D irregular objects (e.g., nuclear waste generated from decommissioning and demolition of nuclear power plants), and a metaheuristics-based packing algorithm is implemented to find good packing configurations. Given the inefficiency of fully autonomous packing algorithms, a virtual reality (VR) interactive platform allowing human intervention in the packing process was developed to decrease the time and computation power required, while potentially achieving better outcomes. The VR platform was created using the Unity® game engine and its physics engine to mimic real-world physics (e.g., gravity and collision). Validation in terms of feasibility, efficiency, and rationality of the presented algorithms and the VR platform is achieved through functional demonstration with case studies. Different optimal packing workflows were simulated and evaluated in the VR platform. Together, these algorithms, the VR platform, and workflows form a rational and systematic framework to tackle the optimal packing of 3D irregular objects in civil engineering and construction. The overall framework presented in this research has been demonstrated to effectively provide packing configurations with higher packing efficiency in an adequate amount of time compared to conventional methods. The findings from this research can be applied to numerous construction and manufacturing activities, such as optimal packing of prefabricated construction assemblies, facility waste management, and 3D printing.
Cite this version of the work
Yinghui Zhao (2022). Optimal Packing of Irregular 3D Objects For Transportation and Disposal. UWSpace. http://hdl.handle.net/10012/17832