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Thermal Stress in HFEF Hot Cell Windows Due to an In-Cell Metal Fire

Charles W. Solbrig, Stephen A. Warmann

Abstract: This work investigates an accident during the pyrochemical extraction of Uranium and Plutonium from PWR spent fuel in an argon atmosphere hot cell. In the accident, the heavy metals (U and Pu) being extracted are accidently exposed to air from a leaky instrument penetration which goes through the cell walls. The extracted pin size pieces of U and Pu metal readily burn when exposed to air. Technicians perform the electrochemical extraction using manipulators through a 4 foot thick hot cell concrete wall which protects them from the radioactivity of the spent fuel. Four foot thick windows placed in the wall allow the technicians to visually control the manipulators. These windows would be exposed to the heat of the metal fire. This analysis determines if the thermal stress caused by the fire would crack the windows and if the heat would degrade the window seals allowing radioactivity to escape from the cell.
Keywords: yield stress / thermal stress / nuclear fuel reprocessing / brittle materials

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