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Drum It Up! Steel Drum Industry News, Trends, and Issues

Posts Tagged ‘hazardous goods’

Using Lasers to Examine Overpack Drums

January 26th, 2018 by Natalie Mueller

Filed under: Cool Stuff, HazMat

Overpack drums are used to contain a wide variety of hazards, from harsh chemicals to combustible materials. One of the more dramatic uses of these drums is to store spent nuclear fuel.

The fuel rods are confined in a welded stainless steel canister that is shielded and protected by a concrete and steel overpack drum, then placed into storage. While this may be the best solution we have right now for our nuclear waste, this process requires regular maintenance and examination to ensure safety. These storage casks need to be frequently inspected for degradation such as stress corrosion cracking. Unsurprisingly, inspecting hundreds of tightly packed irradiated barrels is not the safest task for a human to undertake.

That’s where the lasers come in.

By utilizing laser ultrasonics, a fancy method of shooting pulse lasers at an object, researchers have combined that process with fiber optics and a very specially-developed lens, integrating it into a robot system. That way, their compact set up can provide a clear, nondestructive inspection of the degradation happening to each barrel, specifically pitting. What that all means is that inspectors will have tools that can operate in the harsh, confined and hazardous spaces that are generated situations such as nuclear waste storage, piloting the robot from a safe distance.

This technology can be applied further than merely overpack drums. It’s suited for any environment that is cramped, high temperature, highly irradiated; anywhere that’s unsafe for humans. In particular, the system is great for inspecting defects in pipelines exposed to high temperatures and radiation inside nuclear power plants and inspection of inaccessible, cramped and hazardous areas for preventive maintenance.

Lasers and nuclear waste? Sounds like a dystopian sci-fi plot, but it is very much a current scenario. At this point, research is still ongoing to perfect the system, and it’s unclear how close they are to becoming commercially available tools. As long as we continue to store waste in the current, overpack method, the importance of technology to reduce the risk of hazard will only become more critical as time goes on.

What Are UN Packing Groups?

November 27th, 2017 by Natalie Mueller

Filed under: Salvage Drum

All of our products here at Skolnik have been rigorously tested to meet every relevant safety standard required for each of their uses. One such regulation standard that containers such as our overpack salvage drums have is a UN marking, providing valuable information about the contents of the drums. While they can be a bit mystifying, we have resources to help answer questions about those markings, and once explained, most of these make sense. Right in the middle of the code there is, however, a letter designation that perhaps needs more elaboration: the X, Y, or Z of the UN Packing Group.

Each letter describes which of groups I, II and III the container is appropriate for. These groups identify the hazard level of the package, with each groups then representing three levels of danger: I is the highest, II is a medium hazard, and III is the lowest rating.Thus, the letter on the salvage drum establishes what level of protection the container provides and what products can be stored in them.

While this letter may be enough information for day to day operations, this leaves one last question still unaddressed: how does the UN determine what is low, medium, and high danger?

The answer to this is found in the very dry and technical Manual of Tests and Criteria, in which UN details their elaborate testing process for various types of materials. Throughout the graphs and charts, one can find that all explosives are assigned to group II. Or if handling flammable liquids, according to the manual, anything that has a flash point greater than 23 degrees Celsius but less than 60.5 degrees is in group III. There are specifications for substances liable to spontaneous combustion, and for ones that, when in contact with water, emit flammable gases. Multiple types of hazards are examined, quantified, and categorized according to how quickly they explode, burn, or corrode.

So, as it turns out, there is elaborate, methodical and thorough science behind these threat-level groups. These categorizations then go on to inform how the materials ought to be stored. While that’s a bit of a reassuring no-brainer, details such as these can easily be overlooked and taken for granted in the hustle and bustle of shipping logistics. Whether you’re trying to decide which Skolnik brand overpack salvage drum is most appropriate for your needs, or have used the same Skolnik brand overpack salvage drum for years, having a fuller appreciation of the container and its components can provide you with the confidence that you’re making the right choices in your business.

Safe Lithium Battery Containment

June 23rd, 2017 by Natalie Mueller

Filed under: DOT/UN, Industry News

Lithium-ion batteries are the most commonly used batteries in consumer electronics and medical devices today, and they have been exploding. For all of the benefits and conveniences, lithium batteries have offered consumers — higher power density, lower memory effect, long life — they have a number of downsides and risks. Their sensitivity can lead to an explosion and, for this reason, they are considered “dangerous goods” and are banned from commercial aircraft.

The result is a kink in the supply line and, for those who rely on medical devices powered by lithium batteries, more than a mild inconvenience. At present, these batteries are only permitted on cargo aircraft and cargo planes only fly to large airports. As a result, the batteries cannot get to their final destinations.

The world isn’t going to suddenly stop needing lithium ion batteries anytime soon, so this is a puzzle that needs a solution. But, you know what they say: Necessity is the mother of invention. Skolnik Industries and Labelmaster have been working together to devise a package that can safely contain spent lithium ion batteries for bulk transport. This overpack package would serve as a multi-pack solution for the batteries as well as a secondary spill containment measure should the batteries be compromised in transit.

While it is always a pleasure to work with our friends at Labelmaster, we’re eager to find a safe and strong solution to this problem. The project cannot be completed until the DOT releases its final testing requirements for these package types, and, as with all Skolnik Industries products, this lithium battery-safe overpack container would be rigorously tested to meet all pertinent DOT regulations.

Once the regulations are set, we look forward to providing shippers and manufacturers with a safe, efficient solution to lithium battery containment, and helping alleviate the delay for those who need battery replacements for their medical devices.