Honors Theses and Capstones

Date of Award

Spring 2014

Project Type

Senior Honors Thesis

College or School



Civil Engineering

Program or Major

Civil Engineering

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science

First Advisor

Ricardo Medina


Existing transportation probabilistic risk assessment for spent nuclear fuel in the United States is based on short-term (decades) on-site storage at power plants before transport. Updated risk assessment estimates will be required as extended on-site storage (centuries) and higher burnup levels in fuel become standard. Nuclear fuel rods under these two conditions are more brittle than rods from short-term storage and intermediate burnup due to several mechanisms, including hydrogen embrittlement. Development of risk assessment requires characterizations of dynamic behavior of these degraded rods under transportation scenarios. This Honors thesis provides an initial literature review for a larger project that will investigate the dynamic response of fuel rods under vibration due to normal transportation only. The literature review covers testing procedures, methods for modeling pellet-cladding interaction, and methods for inducing hydrogen embrittlement in sample fuel rod specimens. Moreover, recommendations are provided for testing procedures for a rod sample on the uniaxial shake table at the University of New Hampshire. Recommendations include the use of acceleration data from truck transportation studies by Magnuson (1977 and 1978) modified to serve as appropriate shake table input. Another recommendation is the construction and use of a specialized “U-frame” for reversal bending fatigue tests on a segment of the sample rod, similar to work done by Wang et al. (2013) at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The necessities of more transport acceleration data, a greater quantity of sample specimens, and in-depth study of flexural stiffness due to pellet-cladding interaction are outlined in the description of future work.