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Forced Helium Dehydrator

Two Forced Helium Dehydrator (FHD) systems side by side at Holtec’s Fabrication Facility in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Two Forced Helium Dehydrator (FHD) systems side by side at Holtec’s Fabrication Facility in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Holtec’s Forced Helium Dehydrator (FHD) provides an alternative to the vacuum dryer. The FHD was certified by the NRC in 2001 and was extensively used to dehydrate Trojan’s fuel assemblies, a number of which had water-laden fuel rods. Since then, over 20 nuclear units utilize the FHD including Chernobyl in Ukraine and Sizewell B in the U.K.

Protecting the integrity of the used fuel while its physical environment is changed from aqueous (high heat transfer capability) to gaseous (low heat transfer capability) is an important consideration in its inertization process.

The Forced Helium Dehydrator provides certain benefits that are not available from the vacuum dryer. For example:

  • The drying process must not only be efficient, but (1) it must also prevent the generation of high thermal strains (which may damage the fuel cladding, and (2) ensure that any moisture entrapped inside a breached cladding is removed. Vacuum drying, the classical method of used fuel de-moisturization, has proved to be marginal or inadequate.
  • In addition to ensuring that NRC’s mandated level of dryness will be achieved regardless of the state of the fuel, the FHD minimizes the thermal strains on the fuel cladding during the drying process, thus minimizing the potential of crack initiation or propagation of any existing crack in the fuel cladding.

The Forced Helium Dehydrator (Patent Nos. US 8,737,559 B2, US 8,561,318 B2, US 8,266,823 B2, US 8,067,659 B2, US 7,707,741 B2, US 7,210,247 B2, US 7,096,600 B2)