Positive report on Y-12’s microwave casting

533663_DelRevThere have been multiple setbacks with the development of microwave casting for production use at the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant and as a go-to technology of the future Uranium Processing Facility.

However, things are apparently looking up, with a number of positives cited in a July 26 weekly report by staff of the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board assigned to Y-12.

The report noted that B&W Y-12, the government’s managing contractor at Y-12, had produced a plan in February to conduct “key technology maturation activities” to support a decision to continue with microwave casting as the baseline technology for work in the UPF.

“The actions in the plan were designed to allow B&W to make a ‘Go/No-Go’ decision by the end of June 2013,” the safety board report stated. “B&W recently issued a report that highlights the following results from these key activities: the production microwave caster in Building 9212 operated for several months without significant issues, product chemistry from these runs stayed consistent with expectations such as the expected reduction of carbon, and UPF throughput assumptions for casting uranium-molybdenum alloys are valid.

“The report concludes that B&W, as the design authority, has reconfirmed microwave casting as the baseline casting process for UPF. The report also notes the planned prototype of the UPF microwave caster will reduce start-up risk.”

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About Frank Munger

Senior Writer Frank Munger covers the Dept. of Energy's Oak Ridge facilities and many related topics — nuclear weapons, nuclear waste and other things nuclear, environmental cleanup and science of all sorts. Atomic City Underground is, first and foremost, a news blog, but there's room for analysis, opinion and random thoughts that have no place else to go.