Transport packages for spent fuel have to meet the International Atomic Energy Agency requirements for different transport conditions. Physical state of spent fuel and fuel rod cladding as well as geometric configuration of fuel assemblies are important inputs for the evaluation of package capabilities under these conditions. In this paper, the mechanical behaviour of high burn-up spent fuel assemblies under transport conditions is analysed with regard to assumptions to be used in the activity release and criticality safety analysis. In particular the different failure modes of the fuel rods (fine cracks or complete breakage), which can cause release of gas, volatiles, fuel particles or fragments have to be properly considered in these assumptions. In view of the complexity of interactions between the fuel rods as well as between fuel assemblies, basket, and cask containment, the exact mechanical analysis of such phenomena is nearly impossible. The gaps in information concerning the material properties of cladding and pellets, especially for the high burn-up fuel, make the analysis more complicated additionally. In this context some practical approaches based on experiences of BAM Federal Institute for Material Research and Testing within safety assessment of packages for transport of spent fuel are discussed.

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