Mines researchers awarded $3M by Energy Department for study on storage of spent nuclear fuel

GOLDEN, Colo., June 23, 2015 – A team led by a Mines research professor of physics has been awarded $3 million by the Department of Energy to study the deterioration of canisters used for storing spent nuclear fuel.

Primary investigator Zeev Shayer’s team includes faculty from the Department of Metallurgical and Materials Engineering: Professors David Olson and Stephen Liu, and Assistant Professor Zhenzhen Yu.

Stress corrosion cracking of spent fuel canisters, initiated by the presence of chlorides, could lead to the release of helium and radioactive gases. It can also let air in, which poses a threat to the integrity of the fuel rod.

The study will improve understanding of the conditions that encourage stress corrosion cracking -- temperature, salt concentrations, humidity, and other factors, determine which parts of the canister are most susceptible, and develop methods for identifying it in its early stages.

Researchers will use what they learn to determine the best means of evaluating canister surfaces on-site without damaging them.

Colorado School of Mines will serve as the primary contractor and oversee all aspects of the project. Partners include North Carolina State University, University of South Carolina, Chicago Bridge & Iron Company, and three national laboratories: Argonne, Sandia, and Los Alamos.


Mark Ramirez, Information Specialist, College of Applied Science & Engineering | 303-384-2622 | ramirez@mines.edu
Karen Gilbert, Director of Public Relations, Colorado School of Mines | 303-273-3541 | kgilbert@mines.edu