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Unique challenges for storage and disposal of DOE-owned SNF at the INEEL

Description: Non-commercial Spent Nuclear Fuel (SNF) owned by the Department of Energy presents some unique challenges for interim storage as well as ultimate disposal in a repository. There is an important link between Yucca Mountain Repository work and the future needs of the DOE SNF program. Close coordination and early definition of acceptance criteria are essential. Much of the Yucca Mountain Repository work has focused on commercial SNF which has very high structural integrity and a well documented set of characteristics and burn-up histories. In contrast, DOE non-commercial SNF at the Idaho National Environmental and Engineering Laboratory (INEEL) represents over two hundred fifty fuel types, much of which is degraded. Fuel designs by DOE were centered around various test objectives in experimental reactors. The result was a proliferation of fuel types. Interest in enhanced heat transfer led to use of sodium as a bond between the fuel and cladding. The desire for smaller more compact reactors with higher power densities led to a variety of enrichments from less than 20% to greater than 90%. INEEL has most of the US U-233 spent nuclear fuel, which came from breeder reactor concepts and consideration of a thorium fuel cycle. These various fuel types now must be placed in safe, stable interim dry storage. Emphasis is being placed on the use of commercially available dry storage designs and independent spent fuel storage installations licensed under NRC criteria. A lot of technological development is being done to characterize fuels that do not have the documented fabrication and operational histories of commercial LWR fuels. Program objectives are safe interim storage and least cost transition to geological repository storage.
Date: March 1, 1998
Creator: Mathews, T.A.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department