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High burn-up spent nuclear fuel transport reliability investigation

Publication Type
Journal Name
Nuclear Engineering and Design
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Conference Date

Transportation packages for spent nuclear fuel (SNF) must meet safety requirements under normal and accident conditions as specified by federal regulations. During road or rail transportation, SNF will experience unique conditions that could affect the structural integrity of the cladding due to vibrational and impact loading. Lack of SNF inertia-induced dynamic fatigue data, especially for the high burn-up (HBU) SNF systems, has brought significant challenges to quantify the reliability of SNF during transportation with a high degree of confidence. To address this shortcoming, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) developed a SNF vibration testing protocol without fuel pellets removal, which has provided significant insight regarding the dynamics of mechanical interactions between pellet and cladding. This research has provided a detailed understanding about the effect of loading rate and loading mode on the fatigue damage evolution of HBU SNF under normal conditions of transport (NCT). Static and dynamic loading experimental data were generated for SNF under simulated transportation environments using a cyclic integrated reversible-bending fatigue tester (CIRFT), an enabling hot-cell testing technology developed at ORNL. SNF flexural tensile strength and fatigue S-N data from pressurized water reactors (PWRs) and boiling water reactor (BWR) HBU SNF are presented in this paper, including the potential effects of pellet-cladding interface bonding, hydride reorientation, and thermal annealing to SNF vibration reliability. These data can be used to meet the nuclear industry and U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission needs in safety of SNF transportation operations.