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Enhancing Nuclear Safety



Overview on hydrogen risk research and development activities: Methodology and open issues

​​Nuclear Engineering and Technology / Volume 47, Issue 1, Pages 26-32, February 2015

Document type > *Article de revue

Keywords >

Research Unit > IRSN/PSN-RES/SAG/B2EGR

Authors > BENTAIB Ahmed, MEYNET Nicolas, BLEYER Alexandre

Publication Date > 01/02/2015


​During the course of a severe accident in a light water nuclear reactor, large amounts of hydrogen can be generated and released into the containment during reactor core degradation. Additional burnable gases [hydrogen (H2) and carbon monoxide (CO)] may be released into the containment in the corium/concrete interaction. This could subsequently raise a combustion hazard. As the Fukushima accidents revealed, hydrogen combustion can cause high pressure spikes that could challenge the reactor buildings and lead to failure of the surrounding buildings. To prevent the gas explosion hazard, most mitigation strategies adopted by European countries are based on the implementation of passive autocatalytic recombiners (PARs). Studies of representative accident sequences indicate that, despite the installation of PARs, it is difficult to prevent at all times and locations, the formation of a combustible mixture that potentially leads to local flame acceleration. Complementary research and development (R&D) projects were recently launched to understand better the phenomena associated with the combustion hazard and to address the issues highlighted after the Fukushima Daiichi events such as explosion hazard in the venting system and the potential flammable mixture migration into spaces beyond the primary containment. The expected results will be used to improve the modeling tools and methodology for hydrogen risk assessment and severe accident management guidelines. The present paper aims to present the methodology adopted by Institut de Radioprotection et de Sûreté Nucléaire to assess hydrogen risk in nuclear power plants, in particular French nuclear power plants, the open issues, and the ongoing R&D programs related to hydrogen distribution, mitigation, and combustion.

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Severe Accidents and Radioactive Release Study & Analysis Section (B2EGR)



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