24 Apr (NucNet): A storage and transportation cask which can hold one-and-a-half times more spent fuel than existing designs and can accommodate fuel from fast-neutron reactors has been unveiled by Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom, Russian media has reported.
The 137-tonne cask, called TUK-146, is able to withstand the higher radiation and temperature levels associated with fast-neutron reactor fuel.
Russia has one commercially operational fast reactor, the BN-600 Beloyarsk-3 unit. The spent fuel from Beloyarsk-3 is being kept in a spent fuel pool on site.
Russia is also building a sodium-cooled fast reactor at Beloyarsk, the BN-800, which is expected to be connected to the grid in 2015.
Testing of the TUK-146 cask took place at a Rosatom production site in Petrozavodsk, about 400 kilometres northeast of St Petersburg, and was carried out according to International Atomic Energy Agency standards. The cask was checked for hairline cracks by being filled with nitrogen and helium.
The tests also included the cask being dropped from a height of nine metres at an angle of 25 degrees – the position in which it can sustain the most damage. It was then dropped again on a sharp object.
The results showed that the outer sheath of the cask sustained considerable damage, but the contents were unharmed.
Model nuclear fuel assemblies used in the tests were easily removed from the cask and showed no deformities.
“The tests were successful. Now we can say that the casks are ready for commercial production,” said project leader Yuri Kirillov.
The engineering team took four years to develop and design the cask, which incorporates a number of patents.