Nuclear Technology / Volume 196 / Number 2 / November 2016 / Pages 367-376
Technical Paper / dx.doi.org/10.13182/NT16-4
Passive autocatalytic recombiners (PARs) have been installed inside light water reactor containments in many countries to remove hydrogen and, thus, to mitigate the combustion risk during a severe accident (SA). Due to the challenging SA boundary conditions, PARs are exposed to several deactivation risks during operation, which may cause a reduction of the hydrogen removal capacity. Such a deactivation may occur through different mechanisms and could in principle affect the start-up behavior up to the full loss of catalytic activity. To assess the interaction of PARs with the products of cable fires, a set of PAR catalyst samples has been introduced to the atmosphere of cable fire tests performed at Institut de Radioprotection et de Sûreté Nucléaire (IRSN), France. The subsequent surface analyses performed at Forschungszentrum Jülich (Germany) reveal a significant amount of carbon, chlorine (a constituent of polyvinyl chloride), zinc, and antimony (a flame retardant) on all catalyst samples compared to reference samples. The subsequent performance tests confirm that all catalyst sheets suffer a significant start-up delay of between 17 and 45 min compared to the reference samples. However, after burning off the soot deposition, the catalyst samples reach full conversion capacity and show immediate start-up behavior in a subsequent test. The present results clearly demonstrate the adverse effect of cable fire products on the efficiency of hydrogen conversion in a PAR. To further understand and quantify the impact of cable fire products and to assess their relevance for SA scenarios, further experimental as well as theoretical investigations are required. In particular, the combined influence of cable fire products and humidity, which has intentionally been omitted in the present study, should be investigated in the future due to the possible corrosive impact on the catalyst as well as the influence of humidity on the nature of the soot deposition.