Standard Active Last Updated: Nov 10, 2021
ASTM C1553-21

Standard Guide for Drying of Spent Nuclear Fuel

Significance and Use

4.1 Drying of the SNF and fuel cavity of the SNF container and its internals is needed to prepare for sealed dry storage, transportation, or permanent disposal at a repository. This guide provides technical information for use in determining the forms of water that need to be considered when choosing a drying process. This guide provides information to aid in (a) selecting a drying system, (b) selecting a drying method, and (c) demonstrating that adequate dryness was achieved (see Annex A2).

4.2 The considerations affecting drying processes include:

4.2.1 Water remaining on and in commercial, research, and production reactor spent nuclear fuels after removal from wet storage may become an issue when the fuel is sealed in a dry storage system or transport cask. The movement to a dry storage environment typically results in an increase in fuel temperature, which may be sufficient to cause the release of water from the fuel. The water release coupled with the temperature increase in a sealed container may result in container pressurization, corrosion of fuel or assembly structures, or both, that could affect retrieval of the fuel, and container corrosion.

4.2.2 Removal of the water associated with the SNF may be accomplished by a variety of technologies including heating, imposing a vacuum over the system, flushing the system with dry gases, and combinations of these and other similar processes.

4.2.3 Water removal processes are time, temperature, and pressure-dependent. Residual water in some form(s) should be anticipated.

4.2.4 Drying processes may not readily remove the water that was retained in porous materials, capillaries, sludge, CRUD, physical features that retain water and as thin wetted surface films. Water trapped within breached SNF may be especially difficult to remove.

4.2.5 Drying processes may be even less successful in removing bound water from the SNF and associated materials because removal of bound water will only occur when the threshold energy required to break the specific water-material bonds is applied to the system. For spent nuclear fuel this threshold energy may come from the combination of thermal input from decay heat, externally applied heat, or from the ionizing radiation itself.

4.2.6 The adequacy of a drying procedure may be evaluated by measuring the response of the system after the drying operation is completed. For example, if a vacuum drying technology is used for water removal, a specific vacuum could be applied to the system, the vacuum pumps turned off, and the time dependence of pressure rebound measured. The rebound response could then be associated with the residual water, especially unbound water, in the system.

4.2.7 Residual water associated with the SNF, CRUD, and sludge inside a sealed package may become available to react with the internal environment, the fuel, and the package materials under dry storage conditions.

4.2.8 Thermal gradients within the container evolve with time, and as a result water vapor will tend to migrate to the cooler portions of the package. Water may condense in these areas. Condensed water will tend to migrate to the physically lower positions under gravity such as the container bottom.

4.2.9 Radiolytic decomposition of hydrated and other water-containing compounds may release moisture, oxygen and hydrogen to the container.

4.2.10 Extended time at temperature, coupled with the presence of ionizing radiation, may provide the energy necessary to release bound or trapped water to the container.

Scope

1.1 This guide discusses three steps in preparing spent nuclear fuel (SNF) for placement in a sealed dry storage system: (1) evaluating the needs for drying the SNF after removal from a water storage pool and prior to placement in dry storage, (2) drying the SNF, and (3) demonstrating that adequate dryness has been achieved.

1.1.1 The scope of SNF includes nuclear fuel of any design (fuel core, clad materials, and geometric configuration) discharged from power reactors and research reactors and its condition as impacted by reactor operation, handling, and water storage.

1.1.2 The guide addresses drying methods and their limitations when applied to the drying of SNF that has been stored in water pools. The guide discusses sources and forms of water that may remain in the SNF, the container, or both after the drying process has been completed. It also discusses the important and potential effects of the drying process and any residual water on fuel integrity and container materials during the dry storage period. The effects of residual water are discussed mechanistically as a function of the container thermal and radiological environment to provide guidance on situations that may require extraordinary drying methods, specialized handling, or other treatments.

1.1.3 The basic issues in drying are: (1) to determine how dry the SNF must be in order to prevent problems with fuel retrievability, container pressurization, or container corrosion during storage, handling, and transfer, and (2) to demonstrate that adequate dryness has been achieved. Achieving adequate dryness may be straightforward for intact commercial fuel but complex for any SNF where the cladding is breached prior to or during placement and storage at the spent fuel pools. Challenges in achieving adequate dryness may also result from the presence of sludge, CRUD, and any other hydrated compounds. These may be transferred with the SNF to the storage container and may hold water and resist drying.

1.1.4 Units are given in both SI and non-SI units as is industry standard. In some cases, mathematical equivalents are given in parentheses.

1.2 This standard does not purport to address all of the safety concerns, if any, associated with its use. It is the responsibility of the user of this standard to establish appropriate safety, health, and environmental practices and determine the applicability of regulatory limitations prior to use.

1.3 This international standard was developed in accordance with internationally recognized principles on standardization established in the Decision on Principles for the Development of International Standards, Guides and Recommendations issued by the World Trade Organization Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) Committee.

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Details
Book of Standards Volume: 12.01
Developed by Subcommittee: C26.13
Pages: 22
DOI: 10.1520/C1553-21
ICS Code: 27.120.30