PNNL receives 72 tons worth of nuclear fuel storage for research

RICHLAND, Wash. – On Wednesday, the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, PNNL, did some heavy lifting, all for the sake of research.

In order to understand nuclear fuel storage better, scientists received three, empty stainless steel cannisters that weigh 48,000 pounds each.

Trucks arrived Wednesday morning with the cannisters and required a crane to remove them from the trucks and place them on the ground.

PNNL said the fuel cannisters will help scientists better understand how nuclear fuel reacts when it is stored for long periods of time and if these steel cannisters can break down. The cannisters have never been used and will be helpful in ongoing research.

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Seven years ago, Nuclear Engineer Brady Hanson set out to explore safety concerns of nuclear fuel storage, and while years of research has proved that it is safe, there’s still more to learn.

The Department of Energy helped provide the fuel cannisters for researchers, which will also teach them best practices for storing nuclear fuel.

PNNL experts said the biggest concern is corrosion cracking, so researchers will be looking at what causes these cracks and how they can be prevented in the future.

They’ll also look at how to repair cracks on these massive stainless steel cannisters, using methods like cold spray and friction stir welding.