January 19, 2023
Conference Paper

System Analysis Modeling and Intermodal Transportation for Commercial Spent Nuclear Fuel


The United States Department of Energy (DOE) has long term goals to develop solutions for managing the nation’s spent nuclear fuel (SNF) and high-level waste (HLW) inventory. The Integrated Waste Management (IWM) program under the DOE office of Nuclear Energy (DOE-NE) is employing system-level engineering and analysis principles to inform potential future waste management system architectures. Managing the spent nuclear waste requires the use of system-level analysis software that takes various aspects of the fuel cycle into account like waste generation, on-site/centralized storage, transportation infrastructure, and long-term disposal. The Next Generation System Analysis Model (NGSAM) is an agent-based model that was developed to simulate the transportation and storage of SNF and HLW. As an agent-based model, NGSAM has the capability to detail the interaction and movement of individual components and groups, such as rail cars and casks. The SNF inventory from commercial nuclear reactors is currently in temporary storage at multiple locations spread across the United States. Shipping of SNF from these locations relies on one of three transportation modes: rail, heavy-haul truck, or barge. Out of the three modes identified, rail is generally the most preferred due to the size of the canisters and casks the SNF would be shipped in. However, under some scenarios, a direct rail route might not be readily available to a reactor site or improving the rail infrastructure at shutdown sites might be too cost-prohibitive for utilities to opt for a direct rail transfer. Under such scenarios, using a barge or heavy haul truck to de-inventory the site and transfer the SNF to a nearby intermodal transfer site with adequate rail infrastructure where the payload could be transferred to a rail car might prove to be an attractive option. This work initially presents the various intermodal transportation options that could be used to transfer SNF from reactor sites to rail cars. This is followed by exploring the operational steps in each of these modes to move the SNF from a reactor site and transfer it to a rail car. This work also presents the procedure of implementing the intermodal transfer methodology in NGSAM using various Java methods. Finally, the process times for accomplishing each of the individual steps are furnished. The implementation ideology, assumptions, and future steps are presented in this work.

Published: January 19, 2023


Gadey H., W.M. Nutt, P.J. Jensen, R. Howard, R.A. Joseph, L. Vander Wal, and R.M. Cumberland. 2022. System Analysis Modeling and Intermodal Transportation for Commercial Spent Nuclear Fuel. In International High Level Radioactive Waste Management Conference, November 13-17, 2022, Phoenix, AZ, 544-548. La Grange Park, Illinois:American Nuclear Society. PNNL-SA-176333.