Road, rail, boat: Sandia ride triathlon puts spent chief fuel to a test

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Sandia National Laboratories researchers and partners recently finished a 14,500-mile triathlon-like exam to accumulate information on a stresses spent chief fuel practice during transportation. (Infographic by Michael Vittitow)

Spent chief fuel needs to be safely ecstatic from a energy plants where it is generated to halt storage locations and eventually to a permanent geologic ordering site.

Late final year, Sandia National Laboratories researchers finished an eight-month, 14,500-mile triathlon-like exam to accumulate information on a bumps and jolts spent chief fuel practice during transportation. The information from this exam could be used to denote a protected transport of spent chief fuel.
pent chief fuel needs to be safely ecstatic from a energy plants where it is generated to halt storage locations and eventually to a permanent geologic ordering site.

Nuclear energy reserve roughly 20 percent of U.S. electricity and is a heading carbon-neutral energy source. However, it produces between 2,200 and 2,600 tons of spent fuel in a U.S. any year. Fuel rods turn crisp and rarely hot while powering a chief reactor, creation protected transport important.

A chief rubbish transport and storage cask uninformed off a public line was installed with 3 broker fuel rod assemblies from a U.S., Spain and South Korea and afterwards trafficked from Spain to Colorado and behind again by truck, boat and train. Zirconium amalgamate tubes filled with lead rope, lead pellets or molybdenum pellets copied a uranium oxide pellets inside a spent chief fuel rod.

“All of a severe information suggests that a odds of a fuel rod violation during slight handing and transport is low. This exam is some-more picturesque than past tests and could outcome in a some-more arguable quantification of a transport risks,” pronounced Sylvia Saltzstein, manager of a transport projects.

Sandia collaborated on a triathlon with Equipos Nucleares S.A. (ENSA), a Spanish cask engineer and manufacturer, and Empresa Nacional de Residuos Radiactivos S.A. (ENRESA), a house obliged for a government of chief rubbish in Spain. The Korea Radioactive Waste Agency (KORAD), Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute (KAERI), and Pacific Northwest and Argonne inhabitant laboratories also took partial in a triathlon.

A grid of roughly 300 rods creates adult a fuel assembly, and a cask used in a exam can reason 32 assemblies in a specifically designed basket. The ridicule fuel rods within a 3 assemblies were given with little accelerometers and aria gauges before they went into a cask. The cask and basket were likewise equipped.

The accelerometers and aria gauges totalled any bump, clap and jar a ridicule fuel gifted during a trip, agreeable information that can be used to quantify a reserve margins of transporting spent chief fuel.

Earlier tests impersonate transport vibrations to estimate stresses

Though Sandia has entirely tested a robustness of chief rubbish casks during decades of unnatural inauspicious transport accidents, another plea is a highlight from bland transport on a fuel rods inside a cask. Saltzstein and her colleagues wish that steady jostling won’t lead to a fuel rod snapping, like tortuous a soda can add-on one too many times.

The triathlon is indeed Sandia’s fourth exam to magnitude slight transport strains.

The initial used a vast shaker list to exam Sandia’s sensor-studded ridicule fuel assembly, with lead wire in zirconium amalgamate tubes to impersonate a weight of uranium pellets. A shaker list is usually that, a list that vibrates adult and down in a tranquil manner. The researchers automatic a list to imitate a shocks and vibrations from roving by lorry and totalled a aria gifted by a fuel rods. Although a reasonable initial test, a list usually went adult and down, so some-more contrast was needed.

The second exam placed a same public on a lorry trailer installed with 50,000 pounds of concrete, a same as a transport cask, and took it on a 38-mile outing on highways, city streets and mud roads. This exam showed similar, really low, levels of aria on a ridicule fuel. However, given spent chief fuel mostly will transport by train, a third exam looked during a shocks and vibrations gifted roving a rails.

Sandia researchers took startle and quivering information supposing by a Association of American Railroads to set adult a shaker list that could pierce in 6 directions instead of usually adult and down, simulating a aria and acceleration of sight travel. They also transposed a lead wire in some of a rods with lead and molybdenum pellets for a improved estimation of spent fuel. This exam concluded with dual progressing tests: The stresses from normal transport are about 100 times reduce than a stresses famous to repairs chief fuel rods.

The 3 tests gave Sandia researchers confidence, though they indispensable a nonetheless some-more picturesque test. For a triathlon, they changed an tangible spent fuel cask supposing by a Spanish partner, though really identical to those used in a U.S., from one mode of transport to another to obtain information closer to genuine universe conditions.

14,500-mile triathlon provides singular information on spent fuel transportation

The triathlon started in northern Spain, where a cask trafficked by heavy-haul lorry for about 250 miles by categorical roads and highways. After a layover to download information from a sensors, a cask was eliminated to a barge, that skirted along a seashore of France to Belgium, sailing some-more than 1,000 miles over 4 days. After a layover in Belgium, a cask was eliminated to a load ship. Then a boat crossed a Atlantic to Baltimore — roughly 4,000 miles — by infrequently severe seas. This took dual weeks.

In Baltimore, a cask was eliminated to a dedicated flatbed sight automobile and trafficked west about 2,000 miles by 12 states, that took 7 days. Then, in partnership with a Association of American Railroads, a cask and fuel assemblies were tested during a Transportation Technology Center Inc. trickery nearby Pueblo, Colorado. The core has roughly 50 miles of exam track, needing such tranquil scenarios as fasten dual rail cars together or rumbling over a lane crossing. After these trials, a cask with a sensors topsy-turvy march and returned to Spain.

In further to a logistical challenges, a biggest technical plea was building a information merger complement that could collect all a startle and quivering information dynamically and unsupervised, pronounced Paul McConnell, plan manager for a tests. A Sandia contractor, Bill Uncapher, designed a complement and Sandia technologists, Carissa Grey and Wes Chilton, built a system.

Loading a chief rubbish transport and storage cask with 3 broker fuel rod assemblies onto a boat for a second leg of Sandia National Laboratories’ triathlon. (Photo pleasantness Sandia National Laboratories)

The rail cask exam generated about 8 terabytes of startle and quivering data. Saltzstein expects a full research will take scarcely a year. The information from a exam also will be used to countenance mechanism models of a stresses gifted by spent fuel during normal transportation.

“Preliminary formula uncover really low startle and quivering levels, that we will review to a automatic properties of fuel that’s come out of a chief energy reactor,” pronounced McConnell. “Ultimately, we wish to know if a fuel can withstand a accumulation of shocks and vibrations during a tour that could potentially means a fuel rod to break.”

The exam was partially saved by a Department of Energy Office of Nuclear Energy’s Spent Fuel and Waste Science and Technology program.

Source: Sandia



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