Spent Nuclear Fuel Testing

December, 2016

Problem Statement: 

High burn-up (HBU) (>45 GWd/MTU) nuclear fuel is associated with increased corrosion and hydride precipitation and high levels of irradiation-induced damage to cladding and fuel pellets. To support eventual disposal of spent nuclear fuel (SNF), there is a need to test and evaluate the mechanical behavior of SNF under normal transportation condition.  

SNF rod fractured within gage section.  (hi-res image)

Technical Approach:

The tester includes a U-shaped loading frame developed by ORNL and a dual linear-motor Bose® ElectroForce® TestBench test instrument. The SNF rod specimen is installed and integrated into the U-frame through specially designed specimen grips; a setup of three displacement transducers measures rod deformation or curvature. This invention can test SNF rods and other materials under reversible bending in both static and dynamic loading conditions. 


CIRFT system before installation into hot cell. (hi-res image)


For the first time, the nuclear industry and nuclear regulatory bodies can test and evaluate the mechanical properties of SNF rods in a simulated transportation environment.


U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission

Department of Energy-Office of Nuclear Energy, Fuel Cycle Technologies


Materials Science and Technology Division

Principal Investigator: 

Bruce B. Bevard