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The Development/Demonstration of Friction Stir Welding (FSW) for Closure of Radioactive Materials Containers in Support of Fully-Remote Operations and Extended Storage

[+] Author Affiliations
Gary R. Cannell

Fluor Enterprises, Inc., Richland, WA

Glenn J. Grant

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, WA

Thad M. Adams

Savannah River National Laboratory, Aiken, SC

Paper No. ICONE20-POWER2012-54287, pp. 303-307; 5 pages
  • 2012 20th International Conference on Nuclear Engineering and the ASME 2012 Power Conference
  • Volume 4: Codes, Standards, Licensing, and Regulatory Issues; Fuel Cycle, Radioactive Waste Management and Decommissioning; Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) and Coupled Codes; Instrumentation and Controls; Fuels and Combustion, Materials Handling, Emissions; Advanced Energy Systems and Renewables (Wind, Solar, Geothermal); Performance Testing and Performance Test Codes
  • Anaheim, California, USA, July 30–August 3, 2012
  • Conference Sponsors: Nuclear Engineering Division, Power Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-4498-4
  • Copyright © 2012 by ASME


Over the past 10 years at the Hanford Site, Fluor has successfully completed several radioactive materials packaging campaigns, all of which have included container closure welding. These campaigns utilized current, fusion welding processes and were performed on a semi-remote basis; that is, the Welding Operator had access to the weld joint to make repairs and equipment adjustments as needed, but performed the welding via cameras and remote video. Upcoming packaging activities will be performed under fully-remote operations (no human access to the weld joint), making weld repair difficult. Fluor believes a more robust joining process, one that can make high-quality, defect free-welds on a consistent basis, will be needed to successfully complete this work. In addition, improved long-term degradation properties, associated with container welds, may be required.

Current United States (US) Used Nuclear Fuel (UNF) containers are made of austenitic stainless steel (S/S) and fabricated using fusion welding processes. Fusion welds in this material can be sensitive to environmental degradation, and in particular, Stress Corrosion Cracking (SCC), depending on conditions and length of service. With uncertainty surrounding the status of a US national repository and its impact on the disposal of UNF (significant delay), the nuclear industry is preparing for extended, on-site storage. Because of sensitivity to SCC and the need to consider extending container storage terms, there is concern regarding the performance of UNF container welds.

In an effort to address these two issues, container weld quality (process robustness) and long-term corrosion performance, Fluor, along with the Pacific Northwest and Savannah River National Laboratories, are evaluating the use of Friction Stir Welding technology for the fabrication of UNF containers.

Copyright © 2012 by ASME



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