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Numerical Simulation of the Insulation Material Transport to a PWR Core Under Loss of Coolant Accident Conditions

[+] Author Affiliations
Thomas Höhne, Alexander Grahn, Sören Kliem, Ulrich Rohde, Frank-Peter Weiss

Forschungszentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (FZD), Dresden, Germany

Paper No. ICONE18-29034, pp. 47-56; 10 pages
doi:10.1115/ICONE18-29034
From:
  • 18th International Conference on Nuclear Engineering
  • 18th International Conference on Nuclear Engineering: Volume 4, Parts A and B
  • Xi’an, China, May 17–21, 2010
  • Conference Sponsors: Nuclear Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-4932-3
  • Copyright © 2010 by ASME

abstract

In 1992, strainers on the suction side of the ECCS pumps in Barsebäck NPP Unit 2 became partially clogged with mineral wool because after a safety valve opened the steam impinged on thermally-insulated equipment and released mineral wool. This event pointed out that strainer clogging is an issue in the course of a loss-of-coolant accident. Modifications of the insulation material, the strainer area and mesh size were carried out in most of the German NPPs. Moreover, back flushing procedures to remove the mineral wool from the strainers and differential pressure measurements were implemented to assure the performance of emergency core cooling during the containment sump recirculation mode. Nevertheless, it cannot be completely ruled out, that a limited amount of small fractions of the insulation material is transported into the RPV. During a postulated cold leg LOCA with hot leg ECC injection, the fibers enter the upper plenum and can accumulate at the fuel element spacer grids, preferably at the uppermost grid level. This effect might affect the ECC flow into the core and could result in degradation of core cooling. It was the aim of the numerical simulations presented to study where and how many mineral wool fibers are deposited at the upper spacer grid. The 3D, time dependent, multi-phase flow problem was modelled applying the CFD code ANSYS CFX. The CFD calculation does not yet include steam production in the core and also does not include re-suspension of the insulation material during reverse flow. This will certainly further improve the coolability of the core. The spacer grids were modelled as a strainer, which completely retains all the insulation material reaching the uppermost spacer level. There, the accumulation of the insulation material gives rise to the formation of a compressible fibrous cake, the permeability of which to the coolant flow is calculated in terms of the local amount of deposited material and the local value of the superficial liquid velocity. Before the switch over of the ECC injection from the flooding mode to the sump mode, the coolant circulates in an inner convection loop in the core extending from the lower plenum to the upper plenum. The CFD simulations have shown that after starting the sump mode, the ECC water injected through the hot legs flows down into the core at so-called “breakthrough channels” located at the outer core region where the downward leg of the convection roll had established. The hotter, lighter coolant rises in the centre of the core. As a consequence, the insulation material is preferably deposited at the uppermost spacer grids positioned in the breakthrough zones. This means that the fibers are not uniformly deposited over the core cross section. When the inner recirculation stops later in the transient, insulation material can also be collected in other regions of the core. Nevertheless, with a total of 2.7 kg fiber material deposited at the uppermost spacer level, the pressure drop over the fiber cake is not higher than 8 kPa and all the ECC water could still enter the core.

Copyright © 2010 by ASME

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