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The Experimental Fuels Facility houses a negative pressure purified inert gas glovebox housing a small furnace and an automated gas tungsten arc orbital welding system. The glovebox atmosphere typically is either argon or helium, but because the glovebox is plumbed to compressed gas cylinders, a number of gas mixtures can be procured and used as the atmosphere source. The glovebox does include an online helium content atmosphere to verify atmospheric, as well as the MBraun standard oxygen monitor. The glovebox also contains a small furnace suitable for heat treatments and sodium work, in the case of metallic fuels.
Using the welding enclosure (glovebox) the atmosphere within a test article can be strictly controlled to very low oxygen levels. The glovebox atmosphere can be run typically <5 ppm O2 and can be lowered further if required. The setup is ideal for assembly of either fuel or material irradiation tests where the samples must be contained within a welded container with specific atmospheric requirements. Because the weld head cover gas is supplied separately, if needed, the glovebox fill gas and weld cover gas can be different. Because only finished fuel is handled in the enclosure and contamination levels strictly controlled, samples can be removed from the glovebox with no smearable contamination. Test articles for the Advanced Test Reactor (ATR) and BOR-60 have been fabricated using this system. A standard Kerr Electro-Melt furnace has been installed in the glovebox for basic heat treating and melting operation. It has typically been used for quench studies on uranium alloys or for sodium work pertaining to loading of metallic fuels.
Glovebox: MBraun double-sided glovebox with inert gas purification system
Weld head: Arc Machines Model 4-500, 70 amp maximum, accepts tubing from 0.1" -0.5"
Weld power supply: Arc Machines Model 207A-1, 100 amp, 100% duty cycles, improved arc start for helium cover gas
Furnace: Kerr Electro-Melt standard, maximum temperature 1,120°C