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Root Cause of Thermal Sleeve Loosening in a Korean Standard Nuclear Power Plant

[+] Author Affiliations
Sang-Nyung Kim, Sang-Gyu Lim

Kyung Hee University, Yongin-si, Gyeonggi-do, Korea

Paper No. ICONE14-89207, pp. 69-76; 8 pages
  • 14th International Conference on Nuclear Engineering
  • Volume 3: Structural Integrity; Nuclear Engineering Advances; Next Generation Systems; Near Term Deployment and Promotion of Nuclear Energy
  • Miami, Florida, USA, July 17–20, 2006
  • Conference Sponsors: Nuclear Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 0-7918-4244-4 | eISBN: 0-7918-3783-1
  • Copyright © 2006 by ASME


The safety injection (SI) nozzle of a 1000MWe-class Korean standard nuclear power plant (KSNP) is fitted with thermal sleeves (T/S) to alleviate thermal fatigue. Thermal sleeves in KSNP #3 & #4 in Yeonggwang (YG) & Ulchin (UC) are manufactured out of In-600 and fitted solidly without any problem, whereas KSNP #5 & #6 in the same nuclear power plants, also fitted with thermal sleeves made of In-690 for increased corrosion resistance, experienced a loosening of thermal sleeves in all reactors except KSNP YG #5-1A, resulting in significant loss of generation availability. An investigation into the cause of the loosening of the thermal sleeves only found out that the thermal sleeves were subject to severe vibration and rotation, failing to uncover the root cause and mechanism of the loosening. In an effort to identify the root cause of T/S loosening, three suspected causes were analyzed: (1) the impact force of flow on the T/S when the safety SI nozzle was in operation, (2) the differences between In-600 and In-690 in terms of physical and chemical properties (notably the thermal expansion coefficient), and (3) the positioning error after explosive expansion of the T/S as well as the asymmetric expansion of T/S. It was confirmed that none of the three suspected causes could be considered as the root cause. However, after reviewing design changes applied to the Palo Verde nuclear plant predating KSNP YG #3 & #4 to KSNP #5 & #6, it was realized that the second design modification (in terms of groove depth & material) had required an additional explosive energy by 150% in aggregate, but the amount of gunpowder and the explosive expansion method were the same as before, resulting in insufficient explosive force that led to poor thermal sleeve expansion. T/S measurement data and rubbing copies also support this conclusion. In addition, it is our judgment that the acceptance criteria applicable to T/S fitting was not strict enough, failing to single out thermal sleeves that were not expanded sufficiently. Furthermore, the T/S loosening was also attributable to lenient quality control before and after fitting the T/S that resulted in significant uncertainty. Lastly, in a flow-induced vibration test planned to account for the flow mechanism that had a direct impact upon the loosening of the thermal sleeves that were not fitted completely, it was discovered that the T/S loosening was attributable to RCS main flow. In addition, it was proven theoretically that the rotation of the T/S was induced by vibration.

Copyright © 2006 by ASME



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