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Title: STUDY ON AIR INGRESS MITIGATION METHODS IN THE VERY HIGH TEMPERATURE GAS COOLED REACTOR (VHTR)

An air-ingress accident followed by a pipe break is considered as a critical event for a very high temperature gas-cooled reactor (VHTR). Following helium depressurization, it is anticipated that unless countermeasures are taken, air will enter the core through the break leading to oxidation of the in-core graphite structure. Thus, without mitigation features, this accident might lead to severe exothermic chemical reactions of graphite and oxygen. Under extreme circumstances, a loss of core structural integrity may occur along with excessive release of radiological inventory. Idaho National Laboratory under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Energy is performing research and development (R&D) that focuses on key phenomena important during challenging scenarios that may occur in the VHTR. Phenomena Identification and Ranking Table (PIRT) studies to date have identified the air ingress event, following on the heels of a VHTR depressurization, as very important (Oh et al. 2006, Schultz et al. 2006). Consequently, the development of advanced air ingress-related models and verification and validation (V&V) requirements are part of the experimental validation plan. This paper discusses about various air-ingress mitigation concepts applicable for the VHTRs. The study begins with identifying important factors (or phenomena) associated with the air-ingress accident by usingmore » a root-cause analysis. By preventing main causes of the important events identified in the root-cause diagram, the basic air-ingress mitigation ideas can be conceptually derived. The main concepts include (1) preventing structural degradation of graphite supporters; (2) preventing local stress concentration in the supporter; (3) preventing graphite oxidation; (4) preventing air ingress; (5) preventing density gradient driven flow; (4) preventing fluid density gradient; (5) preventing fluid temperature gradient; (6) preventing high temperature. Based on the basic concepts listed above, various air-ingress mitigation methods are proposed in this study. Among them, the following two mitigation ideas are extensively investigated using computational fluid dynamic codes (CFD): (1) helium injection in the lower plenum, and (2) reactor enclosure opened at the bottom. The main idea of the helium injection method is to replace air in the core and the lower plenum upper part by buoyancy force. This method reduces graphite oxidation damage in the severe locations of the reactor inside. To validate this method, CFD simulations are addressed here. A simple 2-D CFD model is developed based on the GT-MHR 600MWt design. The simulation results showed that the helium replace the air flow into the core and significantly reduce the air concentration in the core and bottom reflector potentially protecting oxidation damage. According to the simulation results, even small helium flow was sufficient to remove air in the core, mitigating the air-ingress successfully. The idea of the reactor enclosure with an opening at the bottom changes overall air-ingress mechanism from natural convection to molecular diffusion. This method can be applied to the current system by some design modification of the reactor cavity. To validate this concept, this study also uses CFD simulations based on the simplified 2-D geometry. The simulation results showed that the enclosure open at the bottom can successfully mitigate air-ingress into the reactor even after on-set natural circulation occurs.« less
Authors:
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
1023513
Report Number(s):
INL/CON-10-19705
TRN: US1104568
DOE Contract Number:
DE-AC07-05ID14517
Resource Type:
Conference
Resource Relation:
Conference: 2011 ASME/JSME,Hawaii,03/13/2011,03/17/2011
Research Org:
Idaho National Laboratory (INL)
Sponsoring Org:
DOE - NE
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
99 GENERAL AND MISCELLANEOUS; ACCIDENTS; AIR FLOW; CHEMICAL REACTIONS; COMPUTERIZED SIMULATION; DEPRESSURIZATION; DIFFUSION; FLUID MECHANICS; GAS COOLED REACTORS; GEOMETRY; GRAPHITE; HELIUM; MITIGATION; MODIFICATIONS; NATURAL CONVECTION; OPENINGS; OXIDATION; OXYGEN; TEMPERATURE GRADIENTS; VALIDATION; VERIFICATION air ingress mitigation