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A comparison of core degradation phenomena in the CORA, QUENCH, Phébus SFD and Phébus FP experiments

​Nuclear Engineering and Design / Volume 283, Pages 8-20, March 2015

Document type > *Article de revue

Keywords >

Research Unit > IRSN/PSN-RES/SAG/LETR, IRSN/PSN-RES/SEMIA/LIMAR

Authors > HASTE Tim, STEINBRUCK Martin, BARRACHIN Marc, DE LUZE Olivier, GROSSE Mirco, STUCKERT Juri

Publication Date > 01/03/2015

Summary

Over the past 20 years, integral fuel bundle experiments performed at IRSN Cadarache, France (Phébus-SFD and Phébus FP – fission heated) and at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Germany (CORA and QUENCH – electrically heated), accompanied by separate-effect tests, have provided a wealth of detailed information on core degradation phenomena that occur under severe accident conditions, relevant to such safety issues as in-vessel retention of the core, recovery of the core by water reflood, hydrogen generation and fission product release. These data form an important basis for development and validation of severe accident analysis codes such as ASTEC (IRSN/GRS, EC) and MELCOR (USNRC/SNL, USA) that are used to assess the safety of current and future reactor designs, so helping to reduce the uncertainty associated with such code predictions.


Following the recent end of the Phébus FP project, it is appropriate now to compare the core degradation phenomena observed in these four major experimental series, indicating the main conclusions that have been drawn. This covers subjects such as early phase degradation up to loss of rod-like geometry (all the series), late phase degradation and the link between fission product release and core degradation (Phébus FP), oxidation phenomena (all the series), reflood behaviour (CORA and QUENCH), as well as particular topics such as the effects of control rod material and fuel burn-up on core degradation. It also outlines the separate-effects experiments performed to elucidate specific phenomena such as the impact of chemical reactions involving boron carbide absorber material. Finally, it indicates the remaining topics for which further investigation is still required and/or is under way.

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