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Modelling and analysis of severe accidents for VVER-1000 reactors
Tusheva, P.
Abstract: Accident conditions involving significant core degradation are termed severe accidents /IAEA:
NS-G-2.15/. Despite the low probability of occurrence of such events, the investigation of severe accident scenarios is an important part of the nuclear safety research. Considering a hypothetical core melt down scenario in a VVER-1000 light water reactor, the early in-vessel phase focusing on the thermal-hydraulic phenomena, and the late in-vessel phase focusing on the melt relocation into the reactor pressure vessel (RPV) lower head, are investigated.

The objective of this work is the assessment of severe accident management procedures for VVER-1000 reactors, i.e. the estimation of the maximum period of time available for taking appropriate measures and particular decisions by the plant personnel. During high pressure severe accident sequences it is of prime importance to depressurize the primary circuit in order to allow for effective injection from the emergency core cooling systems and to avoid reactor pressure vessel failure at high pressure that could cause direct containment heating and subsequent challenge to the containment structure. Therefore different accident management measures were investigated for the in-vessel phase of a hypothetical station blackout accident using the severe accident code ASTEC, the mechanistic code ATHLET and the multi-purpose code system ANSYS.

The analyses performed on the PHEBUS ISP-46 experiment, as well as simulations of small break loss of coolant accident and station blackout scenarios were used to contribute to the validation and improvement of the integral severe accident code ASTEC. Investigations on the applicability and the effectiveness of accident management procedures in the preventive domain, as well as detailed analyses on the thermal-hydraulic phenomena during the early in-vessel phase of a station blackout accident have been performed with the mechanistic code ATHLET. The results of the simulations show, that the effectiveness of the procedures strongly depends on the ability of the passive safety systems to inject as much water as possible into the reactor coolant system.

The results on the early in-vessel phase have shown potentially delayed RPV failure by depressurization of the primary side, as slowing the core damage gives more time and different possibilities for operator interventions to recover systems and to mitigate or terminate the accident. The ANSYS model for the description of the molten pool behaviour in the RPV lower plenum has been extended by a model considering a stratified molten pool configuration. Two different pool configurations were analysed: homogeneous and segregated. The possible failure modes of the RPV and the time to failure were investigated to assess the possible loadings on the containment. The main treated issues are: the temperature field within the corium pool and the RPV and the structure-mechanical behaviour of the vessel wall.

The results of the ASTEC calculations of the melt pool configuration were applied as initial conditions for the ANSYS simulations, allowing a more detailed and more accurate modelling of the thermal and mechanical behaviour of the core melt and the RPV wall.

Moreover, for the late in-vessel phase, retention of the corium in the RPV was investigated presuming external cooling of the vessel wall as mitigative severe accident management measure. The study was based on the finite element computer code ANSYS. The highest thermomechanical loads are observed in the transition zone between the elliptical and the vertical vessel wall for homogeneous pool and in the vertical part of the vessel wall, which is in contact with the molten metal in case of sub-oxidized pool. Assuming external flooding will retain the corium within the RPV. Without flooding, the vessel wall will fail, as the necessary temperature for a balanced heat release from the external surface via radiation is near to or above the melting point of the steel.
Keywords: severe accidents, analysis, VVER-1000, reactors, ASTEC, ATHLET, ANSYS, accident management
  • Open Access LogoWissenschaftlich-Technische Berichte / Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf; HZDR-025 2012

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