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Title: Development of Safety Analysis Codes and Experimental Validation for a Very High Temperature Gas-Cooled Reactor

Abstract

The very high temperature gas-cooled reactors (VHTGRs) are those concepts that have average coolant temperatures above 900 degrees C or operational fuel temperatures above 1250 degrees C. These concepts provide the potential for increased energy conversion efficiency and for high-temperature process heat application in addition to power generation and nuclear hydrogen generation. While all the High Temperature Gas Cooled Reactor (HTGR) concepts have sufficiently high temperatures to support process heat applications, such as desalination and cogeneration, the VHTGR's higher temperatures are suitable for particular applications such as thermochemical hydrogen production. However, the high temperature operation can be detrimental to safety following a loss-of-coolant accident (LOCA) initiated by pipe breaks caused by seismic or other events. Following the loss of coolant through the break and coolant depressurization, air from the containment will enter the core by molecular diffusion and ultimately by natural convection, leading to oxidation of the in-core graphite structures and fuel. The oxidation will release heat and accelerate the heatup of the reactor core. Thus, without any effective countermeasures, a pipe break may lead to significant fuel damage and fission product release. The Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory (INEEL) has investigated this event for the past three yearsmore » for the HTGR. However, the computer codes used, and in fact none of the world's computer codes, have been sufficiently developed and validated to reliably predict this event. New code development, improvement of the existing codes, and experimental validation are imperative to narrow the uncertaninty in the predictions of this type of accident. The objectives of this Korean/United States collaboration are to develop advanced computational methods for VHTGR safety analysis codes and to validate these computer codes.« less

Authors:
; ;
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Idaho National Laboratory (INL)
Sponsoring Org.:
DOE - NE
OSTI Identifier:
911001
Report Number(s):
INEEL/EXT-04-02459
TRN: US0704335
DOE Contract Number:
DE-AC07-99ID-13727
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
21 - SPECIFIC NUCLEAR REACTORS AND ASSOCIATED PLANTS; COMPUTER CODES; ENERGY CONVERSION; FISSION PRODUCT RELEASE; GAS COOLED REACTORS; HYDROGEN PRODUCTION; LOSS OF COOLANT; NATURAL CONVECTION; OXIDATION; POWER GENERATION; PROCESS HEAT; REACTOR CORES; SAFETY; SAFETY ANALYSIS; VALIDATION; High Temperature Gas-Cooled Reactor

Citation Formats

Chang, H. Oh, PhD, Cliff Davis, and Richard Moore. Development of Safety Analysis Codes and Experimental Validation for a Very High Temperature Gas-Cooled Reactor. United States: N. p., 2004. Web. doi:10.2172/911001.
Chang, H. Oh, PhD, Cliff Davis, & Richard Moore. Development of Safety Analysis Codes and Experimental Validation for a Very High Temperature Gas-Cooled Reactor. United States. doi:10.2172/911001.
Chang, H. Oh, PhD, Cliff Davis, and Richard Moore. Mon . "Development of Safety Analysis Codes and Experimental Validation for a Very High Temperature Gas-Cooled Reactor". United States. doi:10.2172/911001. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/911001.
@article{osti_911001,
title = {Development of Safety Analysis Codes and Experimental Validation for a Very High Temperature Gas-Cooled Reactor},
author = {Chang, H. Oh, PhD and Cliff Davis and Richard Moore},
abstractNote = {The very high temperature gas-cooled reactors (VHTGRs) are those concepts that have average coolant temperatures above 900 degrees C or operational fuel temperatures above 1250 degrees C. These concepts provide the potential for increased energy conversion efficiency and for high-temperature process heat application in addition to power generation and nuclear hydrogen generation. While all the High Temperature Gas Cooled Reactor (HTGR) concepts have sufficiently high temperatures to support process heat applications, such as desalination and cogeneration, the VHTGR's higher temperatures are suitable for particular applications such as thermochemical hydrogen production. However, the high temperature operation can be detrimental to safety following a loss-of-coolant accident (LOCA) initiated by pipe breaks caused by seismic or other events. Following the loss of coolant through the break and coolant depressurization, air from the containment will enter the core by molecular diffusion and ultimately by natural convection, leading to oxidation of the in-core graphite structures and fuel. The oxidation will release heat and accelerate the heatup of the reactor core. Thus, without any effective countermeasures, a pipe break may lead to significant fuel damage and fission product release. The Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory (INEEL) has investigated this event for the past three years for the HTGR. However, the computer codes used, and in fact none of the world's computer codes, have been sufficiently developed and validated to reliably predict this event. New code development, improvement of the existing codes, and experimental validation are imperative to narrow the uncertaninty in the predictions of this type of accident. The objectives of this Korean/United States collaboration are to develop advanced computational methods for VHTGR safety analysis codes and to validate these computer codes.},
doi = {10.2172/911001},
journal = {},
number = ,
volume = ,
place = {United States},
year = {Mon Nov 01 00:00:00 EST 2004},
month = {Mon Nov 01 00:00:00 EST 2004}
}

Technical Report:

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  • The very high temperature gas-cooled reactors (VHTGRs) are those concepts that have average coolant temperatures above 9000C or operational fuel temperatures above 12500C. These concepts provide the potential for increased energy conversion efficiency and for high-temperature process heat application in addition to power generation and nuclear hydrogen generation. While all the High Temperature Gas Cooled Reactor (HTGR) concepts have sufficiently high temperatures to support process heat applications, such as desalination and cogeneration, the VHTGR’s higher temperatures are suitable for particular applications such as thermochemical hydrogen production. However, the high temperature operation can be detrimental to safety following a loss-of-coolant accidentmore » (LOCA) initiated by pipe breaks caused by seismic or other events. Following the loss of coolant through the break and coolant depressurization, air from the containment will enter the core by molecular diffusion and ultimately by natural convection, leading to oxidation of the in-core graphite structures and fuel. The oxidation will release heat and accelerate the heatup of the reactor core. Thus, without any effective countermeasures, a pipe break may lead to significant fuel damage and fission product release. The Idaho National Laboratory (INL) has investigated this event for the past three years for the HTGR. However, the computer codes used, and in fact none of the world’s computer codes, have been sufficiently developed and validated to reliably predict this event. New code development, improvement of the existing codes, and experimental validation are imperative to narrow the uncertainty in the predictions of this type of accident. The objectives of this Korean/United States collaboration are to develop advanced computational methods for VHTGR safety analysis codes and to validate these computer codes.« less
  • The very high-temperature gas-cooled reactor (VHTR) is envisioned as a single- or dual-purpose reactor for electricity and hydrogen generation. The concept has average coolant temperatures above 9000C and operational fuel temperatures above 12500C. The concept provides the potential for increased energy conversion efficiency and for high-temperature process heat application in addition to power generation. While all the High Temperature Gas Cooled Reactor (HTGR) concepts have sufficiently high temperature to support process heat applications, such as coal gasification, desalination or cogenerative processes, the VHTR’s higher temperatures allow broader applications, including thermochemical hydrogen production. However, the very high temperatures of this reactormore » concept can be detrimental to safety if a loss-of-coolant accident (LOCA) occurs. Following the loss of coolant through the break and coolant depressurization, air will enter the core through the break by molecular diffusion and ultimately by natural convection, leading to oxidation of the in-core graphite structure and fuel. The oxidation will accelerate heatup of the reactor core and the release of toxic gasses (CO and CO2) and fission products. Thus, without any effective countermeasures, a pipe break may lead to significant fuel damage and fission product release. Prior to the start of this Korean/United States collaboration, no computer codes were available that had been sufficiently developed and validated to reliably simulate a LOCA in the VHTR. Therefore, we have worked for the past three years on developing and validating advanced computational methods for simulating LOCAs in a VHTR. Research Objectives As described above, a pipe break may lead to significant fuel damage and fission product release in the VHTR. The objectives of this Korean/United States collaboration were to develop and validate advanced computational methods for VHTR safety analysis. The methods that have been developed are now available to provide improved understanding of the VHTR during accidents.« less
  • The Reactor Cavity Cooling Systems (RCCS) is a passive safety system that will be incorporated in the VTHR design. The system was designed to remove the heat from the reactor cavity and maintain the temperature of structures and concrete walls under desired limits during normal operation (steady-state) and accident scenarios. A small scale (1:23) water-cooled experimental facility was scaled, designed, and constructed in order to study the complex thermohydraulic phenomena taking place in the RCCS during steady-state and transient conditions. The facility represents a portion of the reactor vessel with nine stainless steel coolant risers and utilizes water as coolant.more » The facility was equipped with instrumentation to measure temperatures and flow rates and a general verification was completed during the shakedown. A model of the experimental facility was prepared using RELAP5-3D and simulations were performed to validate the scaling procedure. The experimental data produced during the steady-state run were compared with the simulation results obtained using RELAP5-3D. The overall behavior of the facility met the expectations. The facility capabilities were confirmed to be very promising in performing additional experimental tests, including flow visualization, and produce data for code validation.« less
  • The Oregon State University (OSU) High Temperature Test Facility (HTTF) is an integral experimental facility that will be constructed on the OSU campus in Corvallis, Oregon. The HTTF project was initiated, by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), on September 5, 2008 as Task 4 of the 5 year High Temperature Gas Reactor Cooperative Agreement via NRC Contract 04-08-138. Until August, 2010, when a DOE contract was initiated to fund additional capabilities for the HTTF project, all of the funding support for the HTTF was provided by the NRC via their cooperative agreement. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) beganmore » their involvement with the HTTF project in late 2009 via the Next Generation Nuclear Plant project. Because the NRC interests in HTTF experiments were only centered on the depressurized conduction cooldown (DCC) scenario, NGNP involvement focused on expanding the experimental envelope of the HTTF to include steady-state operations and also the pressurized conduction cooldown (PCC). Since DOE has incorporated the HTTF as an ingredient in the NGNP thermal-fluids validation program, several important outcomes should be noted: 1. The reference prismatic reactor design, that serves as the basis for scaling the HTTF, became the modular high temperature gas-cooled reactor (MHTGR). The MHTGR has also been chosen as the reference design for all of the other NGNP thermal-fluid experiments. 2. The NGNP validation matrix is being planned using the same scaling strategy that has been implemented to design the HTTF, i.e., the hierarchical two-tiered scaling methodology developed by Zuber in 1991. Using this approach a preliminary validation matrix has been designed that integrates the HTTF experiments with the other experiments planned for the NGNP thermal-fluids verification and validation project. 3. Initial analyses showed that the inherent power capability of the OSU infrastructure, which only allowed a total operational facility power capability of 0.6 MW, is inadequate to permit steady-state operation at reasonable conditions. 4. To enable the HTTF to operate at a more representative steady-state conditions, DOE recently allocated funding via a DOE subcontract to HTTF to permit an OSU infrastructure upgrade such that 2.2 MW will become available for HTTF experiments. 5. Analyses have been performed to study the relationship between HTTF and MHTGR via the hierarchical two-tiered scaling methodology which has been used successfully in the past, e.g., APEX facility scaling to the Westinghouse AP600 plant. These analyses have focused on the relationship between key variables that will be measured in the HTTF to the counterpart variables in the MHTGR with a focus on natural circulation, using nitrogen as a working fluid, and core heat transfer. 6. Both RELAP5-3D and computational fluid dynamics (CD-Adapco’s STAR-CCM+) numerical models of the MHTGR and the HTTF have been constructed and analyses are underway to study the relationship between the reference reactor and the HTTF. The HTTF is presently being designed. It has ¼-scaling relationship to the MHTGR in both the height and the diameter. Decisions have been made to design the reactor cavity cooling system (RCCS) simulation as a boundary condition for the HTTF to ensure that (a) the boundary condition is well defined and (b) the boundary condition can be modified easily to achieve the desired heat transfer sink for HTTF experimental operations.« less