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Assessments of Water Ingress Accidents in a Modular High-Temperature Gas-Cooled Reactor

Zuoyi Zhang, Yujie Dong, Winfried Scherer

Nuclear Technology

Volume 149 / Number 3 / March 2005 / Pages 253-264


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Severe water ingress accidents in the 200-MW HTR-module were assessed to determine the safety margins of modular pebble-bed high-temperature gas-cooled reactors (HTR-module). The 200-MW HTR-module was designed by Siemens under the criteria that no active safety protection systems were necessary because of its inherent safe nature. For simulating the behavior of the HTR-module during severe water ingress accidents, a water, steam, and helium multiphase cavity model was developed and implemented in the dynamic simulator for nuclear power plants (DSNP) simulation system. Comparisons of the DSNP simulations incorporating these models with experiments and with calculations using the time-dependent neutronics and temperature dynamics code were made to validate the simulation. The analysis of the primary circuit showed that the maximum water concentration increase in the reactor core was <0.3 kg/(m3s). The water vaporization in the steam generator and characteristics of water transport from the steam generator to the reactor core would reduce the rate of water ingress into the reactor core. The analysis of a full cavitation of the feedwater pump showed that if the secondary circuit could be depressurized, the feedwater pump would be stopped by the full cavitation. This limits the water transported from the deaerator to the steam generator. A comprehensive simulation of the HTR-module power plant showed that the water inventory in the primary circuit was limited to ~3000 kg. The nuclear reactivity increase caused by the water ingress would lead to a fast power excursion, which would be inherently counterbalanced by negative feedback effects. The integrity of the fuel elements, because the safety-relevant temperature limit of 1600°C is not reached in any case, is not challenged.

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