Two-dimensional finite element thermal simulations of a generic rail package designed to transport twenty-one spent PWR assemblies were performed for normal transport conditions. Effective thermal conductivity models were employed within the fuel assembly/backfill gas region. Those conductivity models were developed by other investigators assuming the basket wall temperature is uniform. They are typically used to predict the maximum fuel cladding temperature near the package center. The cladding temperature must not exceed specified limits during normal transport. This condition limits the number and heat generation rate of fuel assembles that can transported. The current work shows the support basket wall temperatures in the periphery of the package are highly non-uniform. Moreover the thermal resistance of those regions significantly affects the maximum fuel clad temperature near the package center. This brings the validity of the fuel/backfill gas thermal conductivity models into question. The non-uniform basket wall temperature profiles quantified in this work will be used in future numerical and experimental studies to develop new thermal models of the fuel assembly/backfill gas regions. This will be an iterative process, since the assembly/backfill model affects the predicted basket wall temperature profiles.

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