Packages for the transport of high-level radioactive material are designed to withstand severe accidents. Hypothetical severe accident conditions are defined in the IAEA Regulations for the Safe Transport of Radioactive Materials. One of these accident conditions is the thermal test, mainly consisting of a 30 minute fully engulfing 800°C pool fire or an equally severe fire test. The heat fluxes into the package depend substantially on the fire characteristics and the surface temperature of the package.

Fire tests can be performed at BAM on a propane gas fire test facility. In order to investigate the heat fluxes over a wide range of surface temperatures in this test facility a fire reference package was designed for multiple use. The package represented the outer geometry of a specific transport cask for radioactive waste. The fire reference package is a closed steel sheet cylinder with a wall thickness of 10 mm, a length of 1500 mm and a diameter of 1050 mm. The package was instrumented with thermocouples and filled with heat resistant insulation material. Three open-air fire tests were performed in the BAM propane gas fire test facility. The flames exposure time period varied slightly for the fire tests. The wind direction as well as the wind speed were measured and changed between and during the tests. Test stand parameters such as wind shield location and propane gas volume flow were chosen constant for the three tests. The locally measured fire reference package steel sheet temperatures were used for the calculation of heat fluxes as function of time and surface temperature. The measured temperatures allowed further calculations. In a first approach effective fire characteristics of the propane gas fire, including the flame temperature, the fire convection coefficient and a radiation exchange coefficient mathematically describing the determined average heat flux over the surface temperature were calculated.

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