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Safety Investigation of Liquid-Metal-Cooled Nuclear Systems with Heat Exchanger in the Risers of Simple Flow-Path Pool Design

Johan Carlsson, Hartmut U. Wider

Nuclear Technology / Volume 152 / Number 3 / December 2005 / Pages 314-323

Technical Paper / Thermal Hydraulics /

Safety investigations were performed on 600- and 1426-MW(thermal) liquid-metal-cooled reactors with the heat exchangers (HXs) located in the risers of simple flow-path pool designs. This includes both critical reactors and accelerator-driven systems (ADSs) using liquid-metal coolants. For the 600-MW(thermal) ADS, the safety implications were examined for vessel sizes of two heights (11 and 15 m) and two diameters (6 and 10 m). Then, the reference design of 11-m height and 6-m diameter was compared with a similar design, but with the HXs located in the downcomers. The transients investigated were total-loss-of-power (TLOP), unprotected-loss-of-flow (ULOF), protected-loss-of-flow, and unprotected loss-of-heat-sink accidents. The 600-MW(thermal) ADS of 11-m height and 6-m diameter peaks at 1041 K after 29 h during a TLOP accident. If the diameter is increased to 10 m, it will peak after 55 h at a 178 K lower temperature thanks to its larger thermal inertia. The difference between locating the HXs in the risers and the downcomers is insignificant for this accident type. With the HXs in the risers, the temperature peaks at 1045 K after 28 h. During a ULOF accident in an ADS at full power, the core outlet temperature stabilizes at 1010 K, which is 337 K above the nominal outlet temperature. When the vessel height is increased to 15 m, the natural convection is improved, and the core outlet temperature stabilizes at 911 K. A Pb-cooled 1426-MW(thermal) reactor of 11-m height and 12-m diameter is also shown to be sufficiently coolable during a TLOP accident; i.e., it peaks at 1093 K after 49 h. In a pool-type design with a simple flow path, the use of HXs in the risers and flaps at their inlets that prevent a flow reversal will have significant safety advantages in case of HX tube failures. Steam or gas bubbles exiting from the secondary circuit cannot be dragged into the core region by the liquid-metal coolant. Instead, they would rise with the coolant and exit through the free surface. Another important effect from placing the HXs in the risers is the fact that the reactor vessel wall will be cooler during normal operation and during all accidents in which the HXs still operate. This is because the coolant passes through the HXs before it reaches the vessel wall. The idea to place the HXs in the risers of a simple flow-path design is protected by European patent No. 04 103 634.4. The computational fluid dynamics code STAR-CD was used in all calculations.

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