2006:36 Mechanical Integrity of Canisters Using a Fracture Mechanics Approach

This report presents the methods and results of a research project for Swedish Nuclear Power Inspectorate (SKI) about numerical modeling of mechanical integrity of cast-iron canisters for the final disposal of spent nuclear fuel in Sweden, using combined boundary element (BEM) and finite element (FEM) methods

The objectives of the project are: 1) to investigate the possibility of initiation and growth of fractures in the cast-iron canisters under the mechanical loading conditions defined in the premises of canister design by Swedish Nuclear Fuel and Waste Management Co. (SKB); 2) to investigate the maximum bearing capacity of the cast- iron canisters under uniformly distributed and gradually increasing boundary pressure until plastic failure. Achievement of the two objectives may provide some quantitative evidence for the mechanical integrity and overall safety of the cast-iron canisters that are needed for the final safety assessment of the geological repository of the radioactive waste repository in Sweden.

The geometrical dimension, distribution and magnitudes of loads and material properties of the canisters and possible fractures were provided by the latest investigations of SKB.

The results of the BEM simulations, using the commercial code BEASY, indicate that under the currently defined loading conditions the possibility of initiation of new fractures or growth of existing fractures (defects) are very small, due to the reasons that: 1) the canisters are under mainly compressive stresses; 2) the induced tensile stress regions are too small in both dimension and magnitude to create new fractures or to induce growth of existing fractures, besides the fact that the toughness of the fractures in the cast iron canisters are much higher that the stress intensity factors in the fracture tips.

The results of the FEM simulation show a approximately 75 MPa maximum pressure beyond which plastic collapse of the cast-iron canisters may occur, using an elasto- plastic material model. This figure is smaller compared with other figures obtained by SKB due to the reason that the FEM code (ADINA) has a different convergence iteration tolerance which prevents further increase of the load, and is therefore subjective to the numerical techniques applied for the plastic deformation analysis. A different maximum pressure may be possible if different convergence tolerance is adopted.