Enhancements in Glovebox Design Resulting from Laboratory-Conducted FIre Tests

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The primary mission of the Pit Disassembly and Conversion Facility (PDCF) Project was to disassemble nuclear weapons pits and convert the resulting special nuclear materials to a form suitable for further disposition. Because of the nature of materials involved, the fundamental system which allowed PDCF to perform its mission was a series of integrated and interconnected gloveboxes which provided confinement and containment of the radioactive materials being processed. The high throughput planned for PDCF and the relatively high neutron and gamma radiation levels of the pits required that gloveboxes be shielded to meet worker dose limits. The glovebox shielding material ... continued below

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Brooks, Kriston P.; Wunderlich, Gregory M.; Mcentire, James R. & Richmond, William G. June 14, 2013.

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The primary mission of the Pit Disassembly and Conversion Facility (PDCF) Project was to disassemble nuclear weapons pits and convert the resulting special nuclear materials to a form suitable for further disposition. Because of the nature of materials involved, the fundamental system which allowed PDCF to perform its mission was a series of integrated and interconnected gloveboxes which provided confinement and containment of the radioactive materials being processed. The high throughput planned for PDCF and the relatively high neutron and gamma radiation levels of the pits required that gloveboxes be shielded to meet worker dose limits. The glovebox shielding material was required to contain high hydrogen concentrations which typically result in these materials being combustible. High combustible loadings created design challenges for the facility fire suppression and ventilation system design. Combustible loading estimates for the PDCF Plutonium (Pu) Processing Building increased significantly due to these shielding requirements. As a result, the estimates of combustible loading substantially exceeded values used to support fire and facility safety analyses. To ensure a valid basis for combustible loading contributed by the glovebox system, the PDCF Project funded a series of fire tests conducted by the Southwest Research Institute on door panels and a representative glovebox containing Water Extended Polyester (WEP) radiological shielding to observe their behavior during a fire event. Improvements to PDCF glovebox designs were implemented based on lessons learned during the fire test. In particular, methods were developed to provide high levels of neutron shielding while maintaining combustible loading in the glovebox shells at low levels. Additionally, the fire test results led to design modifications to mitigate pressure increases observed during the fire test in order to maintain the integrity of the WEP cladding. These changes resulted in significantly reducing the credited combustible loading of the facility. These advances in glovebox design should be considered for application in nuclear facilities within the Department of Energy complex in the future.

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  • Report No.: PNNL-22525
  • Grant Number: AC05-76RL01830
  • DOI: 10.2172/1097333 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 1097333
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc864846

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Reports, articles and other documents harvested from the Office of Scientific and Technical Information.

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  • June 14, 2013

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • Sept. 16, 2016, 12:32 a.m.

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  • Nov. 23, 2016, 6:48 p.m.

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Brooks, Kriston P.; Wunderlich, Gregory M.; Mcentire, James R. & Richmond, William G. Enhancements in Glovebox Design Resulting from Laboratory-Conducted FIre Tests, report, June 14, 2013; Richland, Washington. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc864846/: accessed June 23, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.