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Enhancing Nuclear Safety


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Research and development with regard to severe accidents in pressurised water reactors: Summary and outlook

Rapport IRSN-2006/73 Rev1 - Rapport CEA-2006/474 Rev1

IRSN : Ahmed Bentaïb, Hervé Bonneville, Cataldo Caroli, Bernard Chaumont, Bernard Clément, Michel Cranga, Florian Fichot, Joëlle Fleurot, Richard Gonzalez, Vincent Koundy, Bruno Laurent, Jean-Claude Micaelli, Renaud Meignen, Frédérique Pichereau, Delphine Plassart, Emmanuel Raimond, Anne Tenaud et Jean-Pierre Van-Dorsselaere.
CEA : Gérard Ducros, Michel Durin, Christophe Journeau, Daniel Magallon, Jean-marie Seiler, Etienne Studer et Bruno Tourniaire.
EDF : William Ranval et les équipes "accidents graves" d’EDF.

Summary

This document reviews the current state of research on severe accidents in France and other countries. It aims to provide an objective vision, and one that's as exhaustive as possible, for this innovative field of research. It will help in identifying R&D requirements and categorising them hierarchically. Obviously, the resulting prioritisation must be completed by a rigorous examination of needs in terms of safety analyses for various risks and physical phenomena, especially in relation to Level 2 Probabilistic Safety Assessments. PSA-2 should be sufficiently advanced so as not to obscure physical phenomena that, if not properly understood, might result in substantial uncertainty. It should be noted that neither the safety analyses nor PSA-2 are presented in this document.

This report describes the physical phenomena liable to occur during a severe accident, in the reactor vessel and the containment. It presents accident sequences and methods for limiting impact. The corresponding scenarios are detailed in Chapter 2. Chapter 3 deals with in-vessel accident progression, examining core degradation (3.1), corium behaviour in the lower head (3.2), vessel rupture (3.3) and high-pressure core meltdown (3.4). Chapter 4 focuses on phenomena liable to induce early containment failure, namely direct containment heating (4.1), hydrogen risk (4.2) and steam explosions (4.3). The phenomenon that could lead to a late containment failure, namely molten coreconcrete interaction, is discussed in Chapter 5. Chapter 6 focuses on problems related to in-vessel and ex-vessel corium retention and cooling, namely in-vessel retention by flooding the primary circuit or the reactor pit (6.1), cooling of the corium under water during the corium-concrete interaction (6.2), corium spreading (6.3) and ex-vessel core catchers (6.4). Chapter 7 relates to the release and transport of fission products (FP), addressing the themes of in-vessel FP release (7.1) and ex-vessel FP release (7.3), FP transport in the primary and the secondary circuit (7.2), aerosol behaviour in the containment (7.4) and FP chemistry (7.5). Finally, Chapter 8 presents a review of development and validation efforts for the main severe accident codes: ASTEC, MAAP and MELCOR.

In Chapters 3—7, for each of the theme areas, the phenomena involved are reviewed. The major relevant experiments are then briefly described, including recent, ongoing and future projects. The key models and specific codes (except for integral codes) used to simulate the phenomena in question are also discussed. Finally, the state of current knowledge is reviewed and an outlook for the future is presented, especially regarding experimental programmes and the development of modelling tools.

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Descriptions of the IRSN's research units implied in this work

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