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Enhancing Nuclear Safety


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26/11/2014

ODOBA: new IRSN research program on aging pathologies in reactor containment concrete

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The ODOBA project aims to develop a predictive tool to estimate the durability of reactor containment buildings. This objective runs parallel to the assessment of plans to extend the service life of reactors in the French fleet beyond 40 years.


The concrete containment building is the ultimate containment barrier in a pressurized water reactor
and therefore plays a crucial role in the event of a severe accident. Pathologies related to the aging of this material, such as corrosion of the metal rebar and cement swelling, can degrade its mechanical strength or leak-tightness, resulting in cracking and jeopardizing its containment capabilities.

The ODOBA (Observatory of the durability of reinforced concrete structures) research project seeks to develop new knowledge in this field. It will also provide IRSN with independent tools for the assessment of licensee safety reports.

The ODOBA project seeks to develop a predictive tool to estimate the durability of reactor containment buildings as regards safety requirements, beyond the lifetime for which they were originally designed. This objective runs parallel to the assessment of plans to extend the service life of reactors in the French fleet beyond 40 years.

The experimental part of the project involves building structures with a type of concrete representative of that used in the containment buildings of French nuclear reactors. These structures will be subjected to an accelerated aging process designed to simulate several decades of "natural" aging of the containment.

ODOBA is divided into a number of stages in order to produce intermediate results in line with IRSN's assessment needs, such as analysis of the ten-year safety reviews performed on reactors in the French reactor fleet. The project will also benefit from scientific cooperation with the French and foreign nuclear industries and with specialized R&D organizations.

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