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In-Place Filter Tester Instrument for Nuclear Material Containers

Brown, Austin D.; Moore, Murray E.; Runnels, Joel T.; Reeves, Kirk

doi: 10.1097/HP.0000000000000493
Operational Topics

A portable instrument was developed to determine filter clogging and container leakage of in-place nuclear material storage canisters. This paper describes the development of an in-place filter tester for determining the “as found” condition of unopened canisters. The U.S. Department of Energy uses several thousand canisters for nuclear material storage, and air filters in the canister lids allow gases to escape while maintaining an equilibrated pressure without release of radioactive contamination. Diagnosing the filter condition and canister integrity is important for ensuring worker and public safety. Customized canister interfaces were developed for suction clamping (during tests) to two of the canister types in use at Los Alamos National Laboratory. Experimental leakage scenarios included: O-rings fouled with dust, cracked O-rings, and loose canister lids. The prototype tester has a measurement range for air leakage rates from 8.2 × 10−4 mL s−1 up to 3.0 × 100 mL s−1. This is sufficient to measure a leak rate of 3.4 × 10−2 mL s−1, which is the Los Alamos helium leak criterion for post-drop tested canisters. The In-Place-Filter-Tester cannot measure to the lower value of the helium leak criterion for pre-drop tested canisters (1.0 × 10−5 mL s−1). However, helium leak testing requires canister disassembly, while the new in-place filter tester is able to assess the assembled condition of as-found and in-situ canisters.

*Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, NM 87544.

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Austin Brown is a Research and Development Engineer for Los Alamos National Laboratory. He has been concentrating in aerosol collection for purposes of radiation protection since 2011. He has a B.S. in mechanical engineering from the University of New Mexico. His email is

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