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Investigation of the structure of debris beds formed from fuel rods fragmentation



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​Nuclear Engineering and Design, Volume 313, mars 2017, Pages 96-107

Type de document > *Article de revue

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Unité de recherche > IRSN/PSN-RES/SAG/LEPC

Auteurs > NGUYEN Duc-Hanh, FICHOT Florian, TOPIN V.

Date de publication > 18/12/2016


​This paper is a study of debris beds that can form in the core of a nuclear power plant under severe accident conditions. Such beds are formed of fragments of pellets and cladding remnants, as observed in the TMI-2 core. Many important issues are related with the morphology of those debris beds: are they coolable in case of water injection and how does molten corium progress through them if they are not coolable? The answers to those questions depend on the structure of the debris bed: porosity, number and arrangement of particles. In order to obtain relevant information, a numerical simulation of the formation of the debris bed is proposed. It relies on a granular approach of the type called “Contact Dynamics” to simulate the collapse of debris and their accumulation. Two different schemes of fuel pellet fragmentation are considered and simulations for different degrees of fragmentation of the pellets are performed. The results show that the number of axial cracks on fuel pellets strongly influences the final porosity of the debris bed. Porosities vary between 31% (less coolable cases) and 45% (similar to TMI-2 observations), with a most probable configuration around 41%. The specific surface of the bed is also evaluated. In the last part, a simple model is used to estimate the impact of the variation in geometry of the numeric debris beds on their flow properties. We show that the permeability and passability can vary respectively with a range of 30% and 15% depending on the number of fragment per pellet. The other benefits of the approach are finally discussed. Among them, the possibility to print 3D samples from the calculated images of debris beds appears as a promising perspective to perform experiments with realistic debris beds.