Damaged spent nuclear fuel (DSNF) can be loaded in German dual-purpose casks (DPC) for transport and interim storage. Encapsulations are needed to guarantee a safe handling and a tight closure, separated from the package enclosure. These encapsulations shall be durable and leak-tight for a long storage period, because they are usually not accessible within periodical inspections of the DPC. Due to the general design of DPCs for standard fuel assemblies, specific requirements have to be considered for the design of encapsulations for DSNF to ensure the loading in existing package designs. Especially the primary lid system of a DPC is designed for maximum loads due to the internal impact of the content during drop test conditions. The main difference of encapsulations for damaged spent nuclear fuel is that they have usually a much higher stiffness than standard fuel assemblies. Therefore the design of an internal shock absorber, e.g. at the head of an encapsulation is required to reduce mechanical loads to the primary lid system during impacts.
BAM as part of the German competent authority system is responsible for the safety assessment of the mechanical and thermal package design, the release of radioactive material and the quality assurance of package manufacturing and operation. Concerning the mechanical design of the encapsulation BAM was involved in the comprehensive assessment procedure during the package design approval process. An internal shock absorber was developed by the package designer with numerical analyses and experimental drop tests. Experimental drop tests are needed to cover limiting parameters regarding, e.g. temperature and wall thickness of the shock absorbing element to enable a detailed specification of the whole load-deformation behavior of the encapsulation shock absorber.
The paper gives an overview of the assessment work by BAM and points out the main findings which are relevant for an acceptable design of internal shock absorbers. The physical drop tests were planned on the basis of pre-investigations of the applicant concerning shape, dimension and material properties. In advance of the final drop tests the possible internal impact behavior had to be analyzed and the setup of the test facility had to be validated. The planning, performance and evaluation of the final drop tests were witnessed and assessed by BAM. In conclusion it could be approved that the German encapsulation system for damaged spent nuclear fuel with shock absorbing components can be handled similar to standard fuel assemblies in existing package designs.