The copper will prevent corrosion of the steel containers, which will eventually be used to contain and isolate Canada’s used nuclear fuel in a deep geological repository.
The NWMO said it worked with an industry partner to develop innovative electroplating technologies. After immersing the used fuel container in the copper-based electroplating solution for approximately 10 days, copper cladding four to five millimetres thick forms.
Although electroplating has been around for at least 100 years – it is typically used to make copper pennies – this is one of the first adaptations of the technology to create thick cladding.
The NWMO’s progress will be of interest to others, a statement said. “This is an opportunity for the NWMO to reinforce our commitment to share knowledge with used nuclear fuel organisations in other countries such as Japan, Switzerland and the UK,” said the NWMO.