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Zinc corrosion after loss-of-coolant accidents in pressurized water reactors - Thermo- and Fluid-dynamic effects

Seeliger, A.; Alt, S.; Kästner, W.; Renger, S.; Kryk, H.; Harm, U.

Abstract

Within the framework of the German reactor safety research, generic experimental investigations were carried out aiming at thermal-hydraulic consequences of physicochemical mechanisms, caused by dissolution of zinc in boric acid during corrosion processes at hot-dip galvanized surfaces of containment internals at lower coolant temperatures and the subsequent precipitation of solid zinc borates in PWR core regions of higher temperature. This constellation can occur during sump recirculation operation of ECCS after LOCA. Hot-dip galvanized components, which are installed inside a PWR containment, may act as zinc sources. Getting in contact with boric acid coolant, zinc at their surfaces is released into coolant in form of ions due to corrosion processes. As a long-term behavior resp. over a time period of several days, metal layers of zinc and zinc alloys can dissolve extensively.
First fundamental studies at laboratory scale were done at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR). Their experimental results were picked up for the definition of boundary conditions for experiments at semi-technical scale at the University of Applied Sciences Zittau/Görlitz (HSZG). Electrical heating rods with zircaloy cladding tubes have been used as fuel rod simulators.
As near-plant core components, a 3x3 configuration of heating rods (HRC) and a shortened, partially heatable PWR fuel assembly dummy were applied into cooling circuits. The HRC module include segments of spacers for a suitable representation of a heating channel geometry. Formations of different solid zinc compounds (mainly borates) were observed at heatable zircaloy surfaces and characterized in detail for heating-up to several coolant temperatures. As a strict consequence of their proven influence on heat removal and coolant flow behavior in the PWR core, preventive water-chemical methods were defined and tested.

Keywords: loss-of-coolant accident; LOCA; pressurized water reactor; PWR; zinc; corrosion; zinc borate; boric acid; reactor safety research; downstream effects

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Permalink: https://www.hzdr.de/publications/Publ-23798