CONTINUOUS CASTING OF METALLIC NUCLEAR FUEL WITHOUT CONTAINMENT CONTACT

Award Information
Agency:
Department of Energy
Branch
n/a
Amount:
$491,000.00
Award Year:
1988
Program:
SBIR
Phase:
Phase II
Contract:
n/a
Award Id:
6988
Agency Tracking Number:
6988
Solicitation Year:
n/a
Solicitation Topic Code:
n/a
Solicitation Number:
n/a
Small Business Information
Po Box 71, Etna Rd, Hanover, NH, 03755
Hubzone Owned:
N
Minority Owned:
N
Woman Owned:
N
Duns:
n/a
Principal Investigator:
Dr Herbert Sixsmith
(603) 643-3800
Business Contact:
() -
Research Institute:
n/a
Abstract
THE INTEGRAL FAST REACTOR CONCEPT HAS THE POTENTIAL TO PROVIDE SUBSTANTIAL IMPROVEMENTS IN THE SAFETY AND EFFICIENCY OF NUCLEAR POWER PRODUCTION. METALLIC NUCLEAR FUEL IN THE SHAPE OF LONG, THIN RODS IS THE FUEL USED BY THEINTEGRAL FAST REACTOR. THE METALLIC NUCLEAR FUEL RODS ARE PRESENTLY FABRICATED IN A BATCH-CASTING PROCESS THAT UTILIZES QUARTZ TUBES OF PRECISE DIMENSIONS AS MOLDS. IN THIS PROCESS, MOLTEN FUEL IS INJECTED INTO THE QUARTZ TUBES AND ALLOWED TO COOL AND SOLIDIFY. THE QUARTZ TUBES ARE THEN BROKEN TO REMOVE THE FUEL RODS. THE BATCH-CASTING PROCESS DESCRIBED ABOVE HAS SEVERAL UNDESIRABLE FEATURES THAT, THOUGH PROBLEMATIC FOR LABORATORY-SCALE OPERATIONS, MAY PROVE UNTENABLE FOR LARGE-SCALE PRODUCTION. FIRST, THE PRECISION QUARTZ MOLDS ARE DESTROYED AFTER FIRST USE AND ARE THEREFORE NOT COST EFFICIENT. ALSO, THE QUARTZ BECOMES SLIGHTLY RADIOACTIVE DURING SOLIDIFICATION; THE BROKEN MOLDS THEREFORE CONSTITUTE RADIATIVE WASTE, WHICH MUST BE SAFELY STORED OR REPROCESSED. FURTHER, BITS OF NUCLEAR FUEL MAY BE LOST WHEN BREAKING THE MOLD, MAKING IT EXTREMELY DIFFICULT TO ACCOUNT PRECISELY FOR THE WHEREABOUTSOF ALL OF THE NUCLEAR FUEL. FINALLY, THE MOLD MAY CONTAMINATE THE FUEL BY DIFFUSION, ESPECIALLY WHILE THE FUEL IS IN THE LIQUID STATE. IN THIS PROJECT IT IS PLANNED TO ASSESS, AND THEN DEVELOP IF FEASIBLE, A CONTINUOUS CASTING PROCESS THAT CAN MITIGATE OR ELIMINATE THE UNDESIRABLE FEATURES OF THE PRESENT BATCH-MOLDING METHOD OF FORMING METALLIC NUCLEAR FUEL RODS. CONTINUOUS CASTING, USED COMMONLY FOR STRUCTURAL METALS SUCH AS STEEL, ELIMINATES THE NEED FOR MOLDS, ASSOCIATED RADIOACTIVE WASTE, AND THE POTENTIAL FOR LOSS OF SOLIDIFIED MATERIAL DURING MOLD BREAKING. THE NOVEL ASPECT OF THE NEW PROCESS INVOLVES ACOUSTICALLY LEVITATING THE MOLTEN FUEL IN ITS CONTAINER ON A SQUEEZE-FILM GAS LAYER. IN THIS WAY, THE MOLTEN FUEL DOES NOT CONTACT ITS CONTAINER, AND THE POTENTIAL FOR CHEMICAL CONTAMINATION OF THE MOLTEN FUEL IS ELIMINATED.

* information listed above is at the time of submission.

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