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Large Break Loss-of-Coolant Accident Analysis of VVER-1000 Reactor Using CATHARE Code

Luben Sabotinov, Abhishek Srivastava

Nuclear Technology

Volume 170 / Number 1 / April 2010 / Pages 123-132


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In the safety analysis of nuclear power plants, large break loss-of-coolant accidents (LB LOCAs) continue to be one of the major issues. In this study, the latest version of the French best-estimate computer code CATHARE2 V2.5_1 Mod6.1 was used in order to predict the thermal-hydraulic phenomena in the VVER-1000 reactor during LB LOCA. This type of reactor is in operation and under construction in several countries including Russia, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, China, and India.

The paper first presents the CATHARE modeling of a VVER-1000 reactor, including the core, the vessel, the primary and secondary circuits with the pressurizer, the main circulation pumps, the horizontal steam generators, and the steam lines. The emergency core cooling system (ECCS) is presented also with hydroaccumulators and high- and low-pressure safety injection pumps. The break, located in the cold leg and close to the reactor, is represented by the RUPTURE module of CATHARE, which modelizes a double-ended guillotine type of break.

In the current calculations, the bottom-up and top-down reflooding play a very important role, compared to some western pressurized water reactors, because of the ECCS injection into the downcomer and upper plenum of the VVER-1000. That is why special attention is paid to the validation of the CATHARE reflooding model, based on the REWET-II experiment devoted to VVER. In CATHARE, a special two-dimensional reflooding module has been developed, which takes into account the radial and axial conduction in the vicinity of the quench front. The assessment based on the REWET-II facility shows the ability of the code to predict the progression of two simultaneous quench fronts.

Then, the paper presents the results of the LB LOCA analysis for VVER-1000 (reference case and sensitivity study), describing the blowdown, refill, and reflood phases of the accident. Problems related to the countercurrent flow limitation (CCFL) phenomena at the core outlet are also considered. The results of the calculations show reasonable prediction of the basic parameters important to the safety of the plant, such as quench front progression, fuel-cladding temperatures, break flows, pressure behavior, etc. As expected, the temperatures - despite the conservative character of the modeling - remain below the safety criteria. It should be noted that the calculated fuel wall temperatures are very sensitive to the proper selection of the reflooding parameters and CCFL and need skillful choice of the reflooding conditions.

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