SRNL Packaging Group Ends Successful Year with USC Students

By Charnita Mack
June 3, 2024

The SRNL Packaging Technology Group ended another successful year of working with students from the University of South Carolina Mechanical Engineering Program.

Senior Engineer and Team Lead for Package Sustainment Juan Licea-Yañez, Senior Engineer and Package Development Team Lead William “Max” Housley, and Matthew Osborne, engineer, worked with the students who were tasked with conceptualizing, designing, and constructing specialty tooling for closure of one of the group’s prototype packages, the X-3. The X-3 will be a versatile, compliant Type (B) package capable of shipping tritium and other radioactive materials. The design of the X-3 will be a modern, compact, and economical way to ship a variety of radioactive material in various states such as metals, oxides, and gases. Its containment vessel closure features a large spring energized c-ring requiring approximately 63,000 pound-force (lbf) to establish containment. Historically, packaging of this type requires many bolts to establish containment, however a novel closure method was developed for the X-3 in the hopes of getting away from the traditional use of bolts.

A group of students smiling and standing around a table.

USC students and their product. (L to R: Matthew Osborne, Juan Licea-Yañez (SRNL), Courtney Richard, Bret Wiseman, William Ward, Jacob Bootle (USC). Missing: William “Max” Housley (SRNL)).

The students constructed tooling for the novel closure mechanism, making use of an orbital gear system capable of delivering the 63,000 lbf load. Weighing 32 lbs., the tooling is operable by a single person and allows them to readily close the containment vessel. Licea-Yañez says the novel closure mechanism tooling was a success, and it will be further developed.

In April, members of the packaging group attended the students’ end-of-year showcase where they presented their final design and product.

“We’ve been doing this for a number of years, and we’ve had success every year,” Licea-Yañez said. “We’ve enjoyed working with these students. They’ve learned a lot from us, we’ve learned a significant amount from them, and we look forward to continuing doing it.”