Description: This report documents a detailed evaluation of the swaging process used to connect fuel plates to side plates in Advanced Test Reactor (ATR) fuel elements. The swaging is a mechanical process that begins with fitting a fuel plate into grooves in the side plates. Once a fuel plate is positioned, a lip on each of two side plate grooves is pressed into the fuel plate using swaging wheels to form the joints. Each connection must have a specified strength (measured in terms, of a pullout force capacity) to assure that these joints do not fail during reactor operation. The purpose of this study is to analyze the swaging process and associated procedural controls, and to provide recommendations to assure that the manufacturing process produces swaged connections that meet the minimum strength requirement. The current fuel element manufacturer, Babcock and Wilcox (B&W) of Lynchburg, Virginia, follows established procedures that include quality inspections and process controls in swaging these connections. The procedures have been approved by Lockheed Martin Idaho Technologies and are designed to assure repeatability of the process and structural integrity of each joint. Prior to July 1994, ATR fuel elements were placed in the Hydraulic Test Facility (HTF) at the Idaho National Engineering Laboratory (AGNAIL), Test Reactor Area (TRA) for application of Boehmite (an aluminum oxide) film and for checking structural integrity before placement of the elements into the ATR. The results presented in this report demonstrate that the pullout strength of the swaged connections is assured by the current manufacturing process (with several recommended enhancements) without the need for- testing each element in the HTF.
Date: December 1, 1995
Creator: Richins, W.D. & Miller, G.K.
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