The installation of passive autocatalytic recombiners (PARs) in the containment of operating nuclear power plants (NPPs) is increasingly based on three-dimensional studies of severe accidents that accurately predict the hydrogen pathways and local accumulation regions in containment and examine the mitigation effects of the PARs on the hydrogen risk. The GOTHIC (Generation Of Thermal-Hydraulic Information for Containments) code is applied in this paper to study the effectiveness of the PARs installed in the Gösgen NPP in Switzerland. A fast release of a mixture of hydrogen and steam from the hot leg during a total station blackout is chosen as the limiting scenario. The PAR modeling approach is qualified simulating two experiments performed in the frame of the OECD/NEA (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development/Nuclear Energy Agency) THAI (Thermal-hydraulics, Hydrogen, Aerosols and Iodine) project.

The results of the plant analyses show that the recombiners cannot prevent the formation of a stratified cloud of hydrogen (10% molar concentration), but they can mitigate the hydrogen accumulation once formed. In the case of the analyzed fast release scenario, which is characterized by increasing loads with large initial flow rate and high hydrogen concentration values, it is shown that, when a large number of recombiners are installed, the global outcome in relation to the combustion risk does not depend on the details of the single PAR behavior. The hydrogen ignition risk can be fully mitigated in a timeframe ranging from 15 to 30 min after the fast release, according to the dependence of the PAR efficiency model on the adopted parameters.