Nuclear Technology / Volume 152 / Number 2 / November 2005 / Pages 170-182
Technical Paper / Nuclear Reactor Thermal Hydraulics
In-vessel retention (IVR) of core melt that may relocate to the lower head of a reactor vessel is a key severe accident management strategy adopted by some operating nuclear power plants and proposed for several advanced light water reactors. A U.S.-Korean International Nuclear Energy Research Initiative project has been initiated to explore design enhancements that could increase the margin for IVR for advanced reactors with higher power levels [up to 1500 MW(electric)]. As part of this effort, an enhanced in-vessel core catcher is being designed and evaluated. To reduce cost and simplify manufacture and installation, this new core catcher design consists of several interlocking sections that are machined to fit together when inserted into the lower head. If needed, the core catcher can be manufactured with holes to accommodate lower head penetrations. Each section of the core catcher consists of two material layers with an option to add a third layer (if deemed necessary). The first is a base material that has the capability to support and contain the mass of core materials that may relocate during a severe accident; the second is an oxide coating on top of the base material, which resists interactions with high-temperature core materials; and the third is an optional coating on the bottom side of the base material to protect it from oxidation during the lifetime of the reactor. This paper summarizes results from the in-vessel core catcher design and evaluation efforts, focusing on recently obtained results from materials interaction tests and prototypic testing activities.