January 13, 2023
Conference Paper

Large-scale parametric modeling of spent nuclear fuel dynamics in the 30 cm package drop scenario


Packages used to transport spent nuclear fuel (SNF) are required by the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations 10 CFR 71.71 to demonstrate satisfactory performance during a drop scenario. While the CFR is meant to ensure safe package function, it does not evaluate survival of the SNF within. The U.S. Department of Energy Spent Fuel and Waste Science and Technology program is working on closing the knowledge gap related to the response of SNF to external mechanical loads, including the hypothetical 30 cm package drop scenario in the CFR. In support of this effort, LS-DYNA finite element simulations were developed by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) to model generic drop scenarios at both the package and fuel assembly level. The models were validated against one-third scale package and full scale fuel assembly drop test data and were exercised to predict fuel cladding strains in a narrow range of model configurations. This work describes a large-scale parametric study conducted by PNNL using the previously developed and validated PWR finite element model, with the addition of a new generic BWR assembly model. The motivation for the parametric study was to characterize the broad range of SNF responses in the 30 cm package drop scenario. This was accomplished by varying the drop orientation, fuel assembly type (17x17 PWR and 10x10 BWR), burnup, cladding temperature, spacer grid buckling load, package mass, impact limiter stiffness, and mechanical gap conditions within the basket. A MATLAB framework was developed to automate LS-DYNA model generation and execution on PNNL institutional computing resources. In total, over 2000 simulations were performed. For each simulation, the SNF response was quantified in terms of permanent grid deformation, fuel rod contact pressure, and strains within the fuel rods, guide tubes, and water rods. The results provide valuable insight into the range of responses that could be reasonably expected from SNF in the hypothetical drop scenario, as well as the sensitivity to each input parameter. The results of this parametric study are a key component of the testing and modeling strategy the Spent Fuel and Waste Science and Technology program is using to close the external loads knowledge gap.

Published: January 13, 2023


Kadooka K., J.F. Fitzpatrick, and N.A. Klymyshyn. 2022. Large-scale parametric modeling of spent nuclear fuel dynamics in the 30 cm package drop scenario. In Proceedings of the ASME 2022 Pressure Vessels & Piping Conference, July 17-22, 2022, Las Vegas, NV, 5, Paper No: PVP2022-84747, V005T07A030. New York, New York:American Society of Mechanical Engineers. PNNL-SA-169745. doi:10.1115/PVP2022-84747