Finned UF6 Reactor Vessel Design
The wide range of expertise and experience offered by FCL’s engineers frequently enables us to offer a solution to previously intractable in-service problems. One example of this involved the development of a replacement reactor vessel used for the processing of uranium hexafluoride powder for the UK nuclear industry. The nature of the process initially requires external heat input via an array of heaters, but subsequently becomes highly exothermic requiring forced cooling of the vessel, governed by an autonomous control system relying on input data from an array of temperature sensors. In order to increase the heat flux in to and out of the vessel, the external surfaces of the reactor are provided with an array of fins. The frequent switches between heating and cooling conditions create an extremely onerous fatigue duty due to the associated fluctuations in thermal stress levels, such that the existing vessel had suffered from repeated severe cracking around the ends of the fins and at the vessel support brackets and, at the time of FCL’s involvement, was deemed to be beyond further economic repair.
To ensure consistency of all aspects of the vessel design documentation, FCL also produced a complete set of fabrication drawings, which assisted in achieving third party design approval with a minimum of comments. The benefit of using FCL has become apparent during the subsequent operation of the replacement vessel, which to date has not suffered from any significant cracking.
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