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Potential Pyrophoric Reactions in Spent Nuclear Fuels Evaluated with Guide

Available May 1 is a new guide promoting spent nuclear fuel safety, ASTM C 1454, Guide for Pyrophoricity/Combustibility Testing in Support of Pyrophoricity Analyses of Metallic Uranium Spent Nuclear Fuel. It was developed by a task group of ASTM Subcommittee C26.13 on Repository Waste, part of Committee C26 on Nuclear Fuel Cycle.

“This standard guide was developed to provide guidance for evaluating the potential for pyrophoric reactions in uranium metal-based nuclear fuels in dry storage, transportation, and/or final disposition environments,” says task force chairman Thomas Thornton, Ph.D., advisory engineer, Framatome Cogema Fuel Co., Yucca Mountain Project, Las Vegas, Nev. “The standard describes test, data analysis, and materials behavior modeling activities designed to support predictions or explanations of pyrophoric behavior of uranium metal-based spent nuclear fuel when exposed to oxidizing environments. It describes pyrophoric behavior as a function of both materials configuration and environmental exposure conditions.”

Of interest to the spent nuclear fuel disposition industry, Guide C 1454 supports the development of safe metallic uranium-based spent nuclear fuel disposal methods and their associated safety analyses, Thornton says. It will assist those involved in the dry storage, transportation, and final disposal of uranium metal-based spent nuclear fuel. In the United States, that includes the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and its subcontractors, and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).

“The standard defines and addresses pyrophoricity as a system function of the material configuration and environment rather than an intrinsic property of the uranium metal fuel material. It thus supports storage and disposal system design activities for the prevention of pyrophoric reactions,” Thornton explains.
“The task group which generated the standard was composed of personnel from the DOE Yucca Mountain Repository project, the NRC, U.S. National Laboratories (Argonne National Laboratory, Idaho National Environmental Engineering Laboratory, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and the Savannah River Technical Center), the DOE National Spent Nuclear Fuel Program, and the DOE Richland Operations Office,” he adds.

ASTM standards are available by calling Customer Service (610/832-9585) or through the Web site.

For further technical information, please contact Dr. Thomas Thornton, Framatome Cogema Fuel Co. Yucca Mountain Project, 1261 Town Center Drive, Las Vegas, NV 89134 (702/295-4483). Committee C26 meets June 26-28 in Las Vegas, Nev. For meeting or membership information, contact manager Felicia Quinzi, ASTM (610/832-9738). //