Certification of radioactive material (RAM) packages for storage and transportation requires multiple tiers of testing that simulate accident conditions in order to assure safety. One of these key testing aspects focuses on container response to thermal insults when a package includes materials that decompose, combust, or change phase between −40 °C and 800 °C. Thermal insult for RAM packages during testing can be imposed from a direct pool fire, but it can also be imposed using a furnace or a radiant heat system. Depending on variables such as scale, heating rates, desired environment, intended diagnostics, cost, etc., each of the different methods possess their advantages and disadvantages. While a direct fire can be the closest method to represent a plausible insult, incorporating comprehensive diagnostics in a controlled fire test can pose various challenges due to the nature of a fire. Radiant heat setups can instead be used to impose a comparable heat flux on a test specimen in a controlled manner that allows more comprehensive diagnostics. With radiant heat setups, however, challenges can arise when attempting to impose desired non-uniform heat fluxes that would account for specimen orientation and position in a simulated accident scenario. This work describes the development, implementation, and validation of a series of techniques used by Sandia National Laboratories to create prescribed non-uniform thermal environments using radiant heat sources for RAM packages as large as a 55-gallon drum.

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