We congratulate our colleagues at our Orrvilon facility on initiating a new generation of spent nuclear fuel storage baskets that have over ten times the thermal conductivity, one third the weight and twice the structural strength as compared with their stainless steel counterpart. We are proud to observe that these baskets, fabricated entirely of Metamic-HT, represent the very first successful use of nanotechnology in components fabricated for the nuclear power industry. “The straightness, lack of camber, twist or bow in these baskets is unmatched in the nuclear industry,” states Metamic-HT inventor Tom Haynes, Holtec’s VP of Materials Development. The picture perfect profile of these baskets is, in part, due to the use of friction stir welding (which does not suffer from weld distortion endemic to classical welding processes). Friction stir welding is another technology innovation introduced to the nuclear industry by our company over the past year.
Recall the setback to the dry storage industry that occurred in the mid-1990’s when hydrogen ignition during lid welding of canisters containing carbon steel baskets and “delayed cracking” of carbon steel welds in the steel fuel baskets brought dry storage loadings to a complete halt in 1996. The subsequent switch to stainless steel choked the basket’s heat rejection capacity. Eighteen years later, we now have a proven technology that overcomes these setbacks and permits the heat load in the dry storage systems to exceed 46 kW.Orrvilon is set to produce four to five Metamic-HT baskets per month in 2014, with plans to ramp up to ten per month in 2015.