IRSN, Institut de radioprotection et de sûreté nucléaire

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Enhancing Nuclear Safety

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Inauguration of the Viktoria Loop, the result of 10 years of research led by IRSN and its Slovakian partner Vuez for the advancement of nuclear safety

The Viktoria Loop was inaugurated on December 14th, 2011 in Levice (Slovakia) by His Excellency Mr. Jean-Marie Bruno, French ambassador to Slovakia, Milos Zachar, director of Vuez, and Jacques Repussard, director general of IRSN. Nearly one hundred representatives of 25 nuclear safety organizations from 11 countries participated in the event.

 Among the equipment essential to the safety of a light water nuclear reactor are the sump, filter and pumps of the safeguards systems. They allow the recovery and recirculation of water for fuel cooling over long periods of time in the event of a rupture in the pressurized reactor cooling system, leading to a serious leak of large quantities of hightemperature water in the reactor's containment building.

However, the accumulation of debris from isolating materials, paint, etc. from recovered water and the corrosion of these debris could eventually lead to clogging in sump filters or to chemical effects liable to generate a safety system failure causing a loss in fuel cooling and, as a consequence, a core meltdown in the reactor.

For more than ten years, IRSN and its Slovak partner Vuez have been working on a research program to analyze and gain an understanding of the complex phenomena involved in such situations, to advance the state of the art on this issue concerning all nuclear power reactors at different levels, and for which the Nuclear Energy Agency of the OECD has created an expert group.

Based on this solid scientific foundation, IRSN and Vuez designed and built the Viktoria Loop, making it possible to perform representative experiments of the conditions that the different types of nuclear reactors could encounter in the event of a rupture in the reactor coolant system. Such experiments will help the nuclear safety authorities of the different countries to optimize safety requirements to address this problem.

The Viktoria Loop is also a very sophisticated operational testing platform that will permit operators of nuclear facilities and filter manufacturers to qualify their devices in terms of safety requirements, taking into consideration all of the characteristics, specific to each nuclear reactor.

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