Mechanical engineering note - safety analysis of molten uranium/water interaction in the uranium foundry furnace Page: 76 of 84
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7.0 OPERATIONAL CONSIDERATIONS
With the operating philosophy to limit the potential for interactions
between the molten uranium and water, there are several aspects of the
system design which should be considered. These are listed below.
1. The system should not have power supplied to the furnace
induction coils to melt the uranium until the mold has been
preheated to 800'C. This preheated state would eliminate any
trace water imbedded in the surface cavities within the mold
and prevent localized interactions which would cause splat-
tering and would prevent any unknown state of water resident
in the mold which could promote explosive interactions.
2. If a coolant line on any of the three systems were to fail,
there is no way to cause a substantial interaction between
the water and the molten uranium if the melt is held within
the crucible. Therefore, the operating philosophy should be
to isolate the coolant flow to the induction coils and freeze
the molten uranium within the crucible if there is any in-
dication of an accident condition. The crucible cannot be
harmed by turning off the power and stopping the coolant flow
to the induction coils. In essence this implies that any
condition which detects a loss of vacuum should shutdown the
heating and cooling to the induction coils and allow the melt
to freeze in the crucible.
3. Since the crucible and the mold are installed in the furnace
as two separate entities, an interlock should be installed
between the mold and the crucible which ensures that the
desired relative position of these two elements is correct
before power is applied to the mold which precedes the heat-
ing of the crucible. This interlock would minimize the
chance of any spillage of molten uranium metal outside of the
4. It is also recommended that manual shut-off valves be used to
back up the automatic shut-off valves in the water circuits.
This would assure isolation of the water coolant lines in any
condition in which a loss of vacuum is experienced.
5. Maintaining the melt within the crucible would also minimize
any potential for hydrogen generation as a result of melt-
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Gourdin, W H & Sze, J. Mechanical engineering note - safety analysis of molten uranium/water interaction in the uranium foundry furnace, report, August 19, 1999; California. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc622935/m1/76/: accessed December 13, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.