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Influence of In-vessel Pressure and Corium Melt Properties on Global Vessel Wall Failure of Nordic-type BWRs
KTH, School of Engineering Sciences (SCI), Physics, Nuclear Power Safety.
2013 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

The goal of the present study is to investigate the effect of different scenarios of core degradation in a Nordic-type BWR (boiling water reactor) on the reactor pressure vessel failure mode and timing. Specifically we consider the effects of (i) in-vessel pressure, (ii) melt properties. Control rod guide tube (CRGT) cooling and cooling of the debris from the top are considered as severe accident management (SAM) measures in this study. We also consider the question about minimal amount of debris that can be retained inside the reactor pressure vessel (RPV).

Analysis is carried out with coupled (i) Phase-change Effective Convectivity (PECM) model implemented in Fluent for prediction of the debris and melt pool heat transfer, and (ii) structural model of the RPV lower head implemented in ANSYS for simulation of thermo-mechanical creep. The coupling is done through transient thermal load predicted by PECM and applied as a boundary condition in ANSYS analysis.

Results of the analysis suggest that applying only CRGT and top cooling is insufficient for maintaining vessel integrity with 0.4 m deep (~12 tons) corium melt pool. The failure of the vessel by thermally induced creep can be expected starting from 5.3 h after the dryout of the debris bed in the lower plenum. However, earlier failure of the instrumentation guide tubes (IGTs) is possible due to melting of the nozzle welding.

The internal pressure in the vessel in the range between 3 to 60 bars has no significant influence on the mode and location of the global RPV wall failure. However, depressurization of the vessel can delay RPV wall failure by 46 min for 0.7 m (~ 30 tons) and by 24 min for 1.9 m (~ 200 tons) debris bed. For 0.7 m pool case, changes in vessel pressure from 3 to 60 bars caused changes in liquid melt mass and superheat from ~18 tons at 180 K to ~13 tons at 100 K superheat, respectively. The same changes in pressure for 1.9 m case caused changes in liquid melt mass and superheat from ~40 tons at 42 K to ~10 tons at about 8 K superheat, respectively.

Investigation of the influence of melt pool properties on the mode and timing of the vessel failure suggest that the thermo-mechanical creep behavior is most sensitive to the thermal conductivity of solid debris. Both vessel wall and IGT failure timing is strongly dependent on this parameter. For given thermal conductivity of solid debris, an increase in Tsolidus or Tliquidus generally leads to a decrease in liquid melt mass and superheat at the moment of vessel wall failure. Applying models for effective thermal conductivity of porous debris helps to further reduce uncertainty in assessment of the vessel failure and melt ejection mode and timing.

Only in an extreme case with Tsolidus, Tliquidus range larger than 600 K, with thermal conductivity of solid 0.5 W∙m‑1∙K‑1 and thermal conductivity of liquid melt 20 W∙m‑1∙K‑1, a noticeable vessel wall ablation and melting of the crust on the wall surface was observed. However, the failure was still caused by creep strain and the location of the failure remained similar to other considered cases.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. , 48 p.
Keyword [en]
Severe accident, Vessel failure, CRGT cooling, Thermo-Mechanical creep analysis
National Category
Physical Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-139534OAI: diva2:687484
Subject / course
Reactor Safety
Educational program
Master of Science - Nuclear Energy Engineering
2013-06-25, 14:00 (English)
Available from: 2014-01-17 Created: 2014-01-14 Last updated: 2014-01-17Bibliographically approved

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