The Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung und –prüfung (BAM) runs an investigation program on the long-term behavior of multi-component metal seals. Such seals are used in a wide area of applications including transport and storage casks for spent nuclear fuel and high level radioactive waste. The seal function is mainly based on the compression of the inner helical spring, which generates the necessary seal force to keep the sealing surfaces in close contact. This in turn leads to a plastic deformation of the outer jacket of the seal, comprised of highly ductile aluminum or silver that adapts to the sealing surfaces of cask body and bolted lid, thus providing high level leak tightness. In Germany, those casks are licensed for interim storage periods of up to 40 years or more if extended interim storage would become necessary before a final repository is available. Thus, the sealing performance has to be evaluated, including factors like elevated temperature due to decay heat or mechanical loads due to transport under normal as well as accident conditions. Long-term investigations at BAM have been running over the last nine years to identify and evaluate the seal performance by measuring the remaining seal force, the useable resilience and the leakage rate after various time intervals at temperatures ranging from room temperature up to 150 °C. It was found that the seal force and useable resilience decrease with time and temperature, caused by creep deformation of the outer jacket. In order to obtain an analytical description for the seal behavior and to achieve more information on the material behavior under application conditions a comprehensive investigation program with focus on aluminum as outer jacket material was launched. The program includes material investigations such as compression and tension creep tests with representative basic materials. An additional test setup allows for the continuous measurement of the remaining seal force at temperatures of up to 150 °C. Furthermore, seal segments are compressed and stored in heating chambers, thus producing segments at different stages of the aging process. The segments are investigated regarding the development of the contact area width, jacket thickness and microstructural changes. This data will be used to develop material models and an analytical description of the time and temperature dependent long-term sealing behavior. This paper explains the current status of gained test results and modelling approaches and closes with an outlook to the future project plans.

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