How Silly Putty Saved $1.8 Million at the Advanced Test Reactor

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Type:  Best Practice

Publisher:  Idaho National Laboratory, Idaho Falls, ID

Published As:  Public


Topics:  Engineering, Operations, Quality Assurance

This article describes how a group of Advanced Test Reactor (ATR) workers completed a job that saved 17 ATR fuel elements from becoming scrap for a total savings of $1.8 million. The use of a nuclear-grade equivalent of silly putty called Reprorubber-putty allowed measurement of the depth of scratches on the inner most and outer most fuel plates of essentially new ATR fuel elements. New ATR fuel elements are allowed to have minor scratches, pits, or other surface defects up to 10 mils (0.010 inch in depth) on the exterior surface of a fuel element. By comparison, two and one half sheets of paper have a thickness of 10 mils. The worst scratches on each of the 17 fuel elements were measured and none of the scratches appeared to be more than 5 mils in depth, when compared to the impressions taken of the 10 mil scratch standard. The measurements taken and information gained using the Reprorubber will allow for the acceptance and continued use of numerous fuel elements every year.

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