Publications Repository - Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf

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Experimental and Numerical Investigation of Boron Dilution Transients in Pressurized Water Reactors

Hertlein, R.; Umminger, K.; Kliem, S.; Prasser, H.-M.; Höhne, T.; Weiß, F.-P.


Within the PWR safety analyses, attention has increasingly focussed in recent years on boron dilution events which could potentially lead to reactivity transients. Mixing of the diluted water with the ambient coolant of higher boron content provides an important mitigation mechanism before the diluted water enters the core.
Experimental support is needed to validate the computational tools to be applied to analyze the mixing of the low-boron water. Experiments were performed in the three test facilities UPTF, PKL and ROCOM in Germany.
The relevant PKL and UPTF tests were focussed on small break loss of coolant accident (SB-LOCA) scenarios with reflux-condenser mode and restart of natural circulation. The two test facilities represent a typical western-type PWR and are/were operated by Siemens/KWU now Framatome ANP in Germany. While the restart of natural circulation was investigated in the PKL system test facility (volume 1:145, height 1:1), the UPTF experiments dealt with the mixing of water flows with different boron concentration in the cold legs, reactor pressure vessel (RPV) downcomer and the lower plenum (all these components were full-scale models).
The results from the PKL test facility demonstrate, that in case of a postulated SB-LOCA with reflux condensation phase, natural circulation does not start up simultaneously in all loops. This means, that slugs of condensate, that might have accumulated in the pump seal during reflux condenser mode of operation, would reach the RPV at different points in time. The UPTF tests showed an almost ideal mixing of water flows with different boron concentration in the RPV downcomer.
The ROCOM test facility has been built in a linear scale of 1:5 for the investigation of coolant mixing phenomena in a wide range of flow conditions in the RPV of the German KONVOI type PWR. The test results presented are focussed on the mixing of a slug of deborated water during the start-up of the first reactor coolant pump. Based on experimentally determined pulse responses, a semi-analytical model for the description of coolant mixing inside the KONVOI RPV has been developed. Calculations for a presumed boron dilution event during the start-up of the first reactor coolant pump have been carried out by means of the semi-analytical model and independently by means of the CFD-code CFX-4. The semi-analytical model is able to describe the time dependent behaviour of the deboration front at each fuel element position in a good agreement with the experiment. All main mixing effects, observed in the experiment, are also reproduced by the CFX-calculation.

Keywords: Boron dilution; Mixing; SB-LOCA; Pump Startup; PKL-; UPTF-; ROCOM-Test Facility

  • Nuclear Technology, vol. 141,January 2003, pp. 88-107