Canada’s Nuclear Waste Management Organisation (NWMO) announced on 21 August that it is using copper to clad used nuclear fuel containers for safer storage. 

NWMO experts designed, developed and manufactured a first-of-a-kind system that makes it possible to coat the containers with copper through an electroplating process in order to prevent corrosion. The used fuel containers are immersed in a copper-based electroplating solution for approximately 10 days. During this time, copper cladding four to five millimetres thick forms.

“The Nanovate Testing System (NTS) tank is purpose-built specifically to coat our used fuel containers with copper,” Derek Wilson, chief engineer and VP of contract management at NWMO, said in a media statement. “Many factors – such as temperature, chemical solution and surface finish – can affect the outcome. With careful consideration of these factors, we have had success.”

Wilson said the copper-clad used fuel container is part of NWMO’s multiple barrier system of naturally occurring and engineered barriers working together to ensure safety in a deep geological repository for used nuclear fuel.