Canada develops safer fuel containers

2 September 2019

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.

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