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Journal of Sotmd and Vibration (1973) 28(3), 505-512

NOISE AND VIBRATION IN NUCLEAR REACTOR SYSTEMS


F. J. FAHY

Institute of Somul and Vibration Research, University of Southampton, Sottthampton S09 5NH, England

(Received I Alarch 1973) In 1966 the Central Electricity Generating Board established a lectureship and associated research studentships in the I.S.V.R. in order to initiate research into acoustically induced vibration problems of gas cooled nuclear reactor systems. This paper summarizes the research work which has developed from these appointments, under the direction of the C.E.G.B. lecturer.

I. INTRODUCTION Nuclear reactor systems which are designed to produce large amounts of heat for the generation of electricity for national consumption necessarily pump large quantities of fluid coolant through the core and the primary heat exchanger components. Many of the various types of system developed in Europe and America have suffered from excessive vibration of primary circuit components during the commissioning or operational phases of their existence. Liquid cooled systems, which were largely developed in the United States, tend to suffer from vibration of the fuel elements or heat exchanger tubes caused by the unsteady hydrodynamic forces which arise from flow over the component surfaces. Gas cooled systems, which have been developed in the West, largely in the United Kingdom and France, have met problems of vibration and fatigue in gas circuit duct work and heat exchanger components due to the very intense sound fields produced in the pressurized gas by the high power circulating pumps. This is not surprising when it is realized that a system which produces 600 MW of electrical power may consume 10Yo of the output in driving the coolant around the circuit; this corresponds to an input of acoustic power to the gas of about 6000 W (or 158 dB sound power level), even with a mechanical-acoustic pump efficiency as low as

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2. FORMATION OF A NUCLEAR REACTOR VIBRATION RESEARCH GROUP IN THE I.S.V.R. Following a serious failure ofacoustic origin in 1963 [1 ], the Central Electricity Generating Board of England and Wales initiated a comprehensive programme of research into noise and vibration problems in gas cooled reactors; as part of this effort the C.E.G.B. generously established a lectureship in the I.S.V.R. in 1966, together with financial support of three studentships and associated research programmes. This support is still continuing and, so far, has led to the award of four Ph.D.'s and to the establishment of a research group which has received additional support in the form of research fellowships from the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority, Atomic Power Constructions Ltd., Babcock and Wilcox Ltd. and Clarke-Chapman-John Thompson Ltd.; two other Ph.D.'s have so far been awarded to fellows so supported. 5o5

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In addition to research activity, the group regularly consults with organizations involved in the nuclear power industry on current problems, and is involved at various times in associated I.S.V.R. Wolfson Unit projects. Constant involvement with the technical problems faced by the industry has been a valuable stimulus to research activities and has helped to maintain a healthy awareness of the need for research which is of direct value to practising engineers and designers, as well as being a vehicle for education in research and advancing the understanding of the physical mechanisms involved. 3. OUTLINE OF THE AREAS OF RESEARCH Research in the I.S.V.R. has been directed mainly towards the noise and vibration problems of gas cooled reactor systems, since all major power reactors in the United Kingdom have been of this type. Recently attention has been turned to potential problems in sodium cooled fast breeder reactors. The acoustic problems of gas cooled systems fall into four categories: (a) (b) (c) (d) sound generation by the coolant pump; propagation of sound along the gas circuit to regions remote from the pump; acoustically induced vibration of gas circuit components; fatigue life estimates for gas circuit components.

Sound generation by nuclear pumps has not been specifically investigated by the I.S.V.R.; however, the work of the I.S,V.R. fan noise group, which is described elsewhere in this issue, has been of value to pump designers. Fatigue problems of the heavy stainless steel fabrications which form the duct work of the gas circuits have been extensively investigated in the laboratories of the various companies in the nuclear industry and have not been the subject of research by the I.S.V.R. group. The main effort has been directed towards the problems of predicting the vibration stresses induced in circuit components by the intense sound in the gas, together with research into the propagation of sound through the pressurized, hot, turbulent gas as it flows through the complex passages of a gas circuit. The difficulty encountered by designers in attempting to estimate vibration stresses at the design stage results from the relatively high frequencies of the noise generated by the pumps (typically in the range 50-1500 Hz) compared with the fundamental vibration frequencies of the circuit components, the numerous natural frequencies of the components in this range, the complex shape of many of these components, the complex geometry of the gas spaces through which the sound propagates, and the relatively h!gh density of the pressurized gas which carries the sound. Consequently much of the research has been devoted to means of calculating the multi-mode, high frequency vibration and stress levels of coupled fluid-structural systems. This has led to a substantial amount of work involving the application of a statistical approach to the analysis of vibration of complex systems which is known as Statistical Energy Analysis. In addition, attention has been devoted to the problem of acoustically induced vibration of slender, flexible, rod-like structures such as the tubes in heat exchangers. 4. ACOUSTICALLY INDUCED VIBRATION AND STRESS IN PLATES AND SHELLS 4.1. STATISTICAL ENERGYANALYSIS An approach to the problem of calculating the transmission of high frequency vibration between complex coupled mechanical, or fluid-mechanical systems was devised in the early 1960's by members of Bolt, Beranek and Newman inc. in the United States: this has become known as Statistical Energy Analysis (SEA). Early applications were mainly to the noise

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induced vibration of spacecraft components. In 1966, the newly appointed C.E.G.B. lecturer, F. J. Fahy, set out to investigate the possible application of this approach to the coupled vibrations of the gas within the confines of a gas circuit and the surrounding shell structure. Very soon afterwards the first C.E.G.B. research student, S. M. Stearn, commenced research into the nature of the vibration and stress fields induced in plates and shells by high frequency noise.

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Fahy's research led to the conclusion that, under conditions of weak coupling between the gas and the structure, which still remains an essential condition for the application of the fundamental results of SEA, previously derived results for excitation of a structure by a diffuse external field could usually be applied to excitation by a non-diffuse field in an enclosed fluid (Figure 1). However, a lower frequency limit for valid application was established for plate and cylindrical shell structures [2, 3]. A criterion for weak coupling was also developed [4]. The results of this research have been successfully applied to a number of full scale nuclear structures. Meanwhile, Steam derived a valuable criterion for the assessment of the degree of effective diffuseness of flexural wave fields in plates and cylindrical shells [5] and applied the diffuse field model to the description of the statistical spatial properties of high frequency flexural wave fields [6] and to the estimation of dynamic stress concentrations at discontinuities in plate structures [7] (Figure 2). The results of this work have proved of considerable value to designers who use SEA because it provides information on which to base confidence limits for stress estimates. More recently attention has been turned to the possible application ofstatistical approaches to the high frequency vibration of coupled liquid-plate systems. J. E. Howlett [8] has clearly demonstrated that the results of weak-coupling analysis do not apply at all to such strongly coupled systems and he has produced theoretical results which are in considerably better agreement whh experiment than those of previously existing theories. 4.2. DYNAMIC MODEL RESEARCH One of the essential features of the statistical energy approach is that the various components of the system under analysis are characterized in terms of the frequency (or modal) average properties of" elements of related, but very simplified, geometric form, such as uniform plates and beams. It was therefore of interest, and importance, to establish whether an analysis based upon such idealized models would yield reliable estimates when applied to gas circuit duct work of rather irregular form. In addition, the high density of the carbon dioxide gas in a nuclear reactor produces relatively strong acoustic coupling between the fluid and structural components. It is generally impracticable to test large, full scale components in pressurized gas, and therefore an attempt was begun in 1967, with C.E.G.B. support, to simulate the interaction between a dense gas and the surrounding structure by means of a dynamic 1:5 scale model of a realistically complex gas circuit system. The Dungeness " B " advanced gas cooled reactor, which was then at an early stage of construction, was chosen as the subject for a modelling exercise. The philosophy behind the project was that a comparison between calculations of vibration stresses based upon SEA and measurements on a dynamic model would help to establish the degree of confidence which could be placed in such a relatively simple means ofanalysis. In addition it was planned to obtain information on the statistical relationship between response to pure tone, or narrow-band, noise, and that to broad-band noise; SEA is only concerned with the latter, whereas some gas circulating pumps produce considerable discrete tone noise energy. Dimensional analysis showed that complete simulation of all gas circuit components was not possible at atmospheric pressure. However, it was found possible to design a steel model containing a heavy fluoro-carbon gas in which flat plate components, together with the mechanical/fluid impedance ratio, were correctly simulated. The error in the scaling of curved shell components was accepted in view of the previously stated philosophy of the project which placed the main emphasis on comparison between theory and experiment on a suitably complex system. The model which was designed and tested by U. Rivenaes is shown in Plate 1. The results of the research have clearly indicated that SEA can be applied with considerable confidence

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to large plate and shell components, except where the exciting sound field is essentially twodimensional, as in an annulus [9]. The vibration of small components such as guide vanes cannot be satisfactorily predicted. Neither does it seem possible, as yet, to accurately estimate the distribution of sound pressure level within a complex, connected duct work system, even in relatively broad frequency bands. Valuable information on the normalized variance of pure tone response about the frequency average have been produced. These latter results have been complemented by investigations of the statistics of mechanically and acoustically induced response of plates and shells by Fahy [10]. 4.3. ACOUSTICALLY1NDUCEDVIBRATIONOF ROD-LIKESTRUCTURES There are two types of rod-like structures which are exposed to noise in reactor gas circuits; these are the fuel-element structures and the heat exchanger tubes, The acoustically induced vibration of slender, unbattted structures had not been extensively studied previously. Two parallel studies were made: one by M. J. Hine, with United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority support, of the interaction between a sound field in a cylindrical flow-duct and long flexible rods positioned parallel to the duct walls; the second, by J. R. Bailey, of the response of both simply and multiply supported slender tubes to reverberant sound fields in a large room. This project was supported by Babcock and Wilcox Ltd. Hine employed mathematical transformations of the wave equation to study the sound fields in ducts of eccentric annulus cross section [ll]; a related experimental analogue study was made with the aid of a drum skin [12]. A waveguide coincidence effect, predicted theoretically, was
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demonstrated in a specialized acoustic wind tunnel designed earlier for sound propagation experiments by V. Mason [13]. The main conclusion drawn from the project was that low frequency vibrations observed in fuel elements were not due to direct acoustic excitation of the element, but were probably due to indirect excitation via the supports. Bailey's studies produced a means of estimating acoustically induced response stresses in isolated heat-exchanger tubes in a diffuse field (Figure 3). It was found that mounting tubes on multiple supports can, in some circumstances, considerably increase tube response [14]. A continuation of this project by S. N. Yousri, with the support of Clarke Chapman-John Thompson Ltd. and the C.E.G.B., has extended the analysis and experiments to multiple tube elements and non-diffuse fields. Estimates have been made of the variation of tube response from that of an isolated tube in a diffuse field, due to the presence of adjacent tubes and other structures [15], and statistical estimates have been made of the effect of finite enclosure size (heat exchanger volume) on tube vibration. As part of the study, the statistics of power radiation from a dipole source into a reverberation room, as a function of position and orientation, have been determined [16]. These results have a significant bearing on the problem of establishing standardized techniques for the measurement of sound power radiation from sources of pure tone noise. In addition, the reciprocal relationship between response and radiation, which was originally established for diffuse field excitation, has been demonstrated to be valid for non-diffuse fields in enclosures even below the Schroeder "large room" frequency. 4.4. SOUNDPROPAGATIONSTUDIES In order to understand and predict the distribution of sound energy in gas circuits it is necessary to study the effects of mean flow, velocity gradients, temperature gradients and turbulence on sound propagation. A number of projects concerning such effects in gas circuits have been undertaken. In 1967 P. Mungur, with the support of Atomic Power Constructions Ltd., set out to investigate the effect of non-uniform mean flow profiles in ducts on propagation. Early efforts involved the application of computer based numerical methods of attacking the two-dimensional, inviscid problem previously analysed by Pridmore-Brown. Cooperation between Mungur and G. M. L. Gladwell produced an important paper [17] which was in the van of the explosion of theory and experiment on sound propagation in flow ducts which accompanied efforts to attenuate the noise of aircraft turbojet engines by means of lined ducts. The viscous flow problem has not yielded so easily. As a result of this, and similar works, much insight and expertise is now available on the behaviour of sound in regions of non-uniform flow and temperature, in the presence of complex boundary conditions. More recently interest has turned to the propagation of sound through regions of turbulence, and mean static pressure gradients, such as occur in cross-flow heat exchangers, in fuel channels and in flow control devices. A pilot study by an undergraduate in his third-year project indicated that it might be possible to derive a wave equation for an extended region of flow in which non-linear aerodynamic resistance forces act and in which acoustic energy is partially converted to kinetic energy of turbulence, and thence is dissipated by viscous forces, by a simple one-dimensional model of a uniformly flowing fluid acted upon by a distribution of body forces. Measurements of the acoustic impedance of various arrays of small obstacles, through which air is flowing, are in progress to investigate the validity of such a simple mathematical model; it has been found that the impedance is greatly affected by even very low Mach number flow (M < 0.1). The significance of this observation is that zero flow measurement of sound propagation through systems which present a resistance to flow are not generally applicable to operational conditions.

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In connection with this project U. Kristiansen has developed a theoretical, low frequency analysis of sound scattering by regular multiple scattering elements in the form of parallel bars [18] which overcomes the usual problems of exact multiple scattering analysis, from which it is rather difficult to obtain quantitative estimates of energy transmission (Figure 4). Experimental measurements have shown excellent agreement with the theory.
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Figure 4. Variation with flow Mach number of the acoustic impedance of an array of rectangular bars. 5. CONCLUSION The problems of nuclear reactor noise and vibration have provided a stimulus for a number of important investigations of the behaviour of sound in flow ducts, and have led to significant developments in methods of estimating the dynamic stresses induced in structural components by intense sound. Future work will largely concern the behaviour of liquid cooled reactor systems.
REFERENCES 1. W. RIZK and D. F. SEYMOUR 1965 Proceedings of the Institution of~lechanical Engineers 179,

Part 1 (No. 21). Investigation into the failure of gas circulators and circuit components at Hinkley Point nuclear power station.

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2. F. J. FAHY 1970 Journal of Sound and Vibration 1.3, 171-194. Response of a cylinder to random sound in the contained fluid. 3. F. J. FAUY 1969 Journal of Sound and Vibration 10, 490--512. Vibration of containing structures by sound in the contained fluid. 4. F. J. FAHV 1969 Ph.D. Thesis, University of Southampton. Acoustic excitation o f containing structures. 5. S. M. STEARN 1969 Journal of Sound attd Vibration 9, 21-27. Measurement of correlation coefficients of acceleration on a randomly excited structure. 6. S. M. STEARN 1970 Journal of Sound and Vibration 12, 85-97. Spatial variation of stress, strain and acceleration in structures subjected to broad frequency band excitation. 7. S. M. STEARN 1971 Journal of Soundand Vibration 1S, 353-365. The concentration o f dynamic stress in a plate at a sharp change of section. 8. J. E. HOWLETT 1972 Ph.D. Thesis, University of Southampton. The vibrations o f enclosure panels strongly coupled to acoustic fields in the enclosed fluid. 9. U. RIVENAES 1972 Ph.D. Thesis, Sottthampton University. Design and acoustic tests of a dynamically scaled nuclear reactor gas circuit structure. 10. F. J. FAHY 1971 Proceedings of the 7th International Congress on Acoustics, Budapest, Paper 19 V5. Statistics of acoustically induced vibration. 11. M. J. HINE 1971 Journal of Sollnd and Vibration 15, 295-305. Eigenvalues for a uniform fluid waveguide with an eccentric annulus cross-section. 12. M. J. HXNEand F. J. FAHY 1971 Journal of Sound and Vibration 18, 1-7. A membrane analogy to an acoustic duct. 13. V. MASON 1969 Joltrnal ofSound attd Vibration 10,208-226. Some experiments on the propagation of sound along a cylindrical duct containing flowing air. 14. J. R. BAILEY 1970 Ph.D. Thesis, University of Southampton. AcoustiCally induced vibration of, and sound radiation from, slender beams. 15. S. N. YOUSRI and F. J. FAHY 1973 Accepted for publication in Acttstica. Acoustic radiation by parallel cylindrical bars in transverse vibrational motion. 16. S. N. YOUSRI and F. J. FAHV 1972 Journal of Soundand Vibration 25, 39-50. An analysis of the acoustic power radiated by a point dipole source into a rectangular reverberation chamber. 17. P. MtJrqGtJR and G. M. L. GLADWELL 1969 Jottrnal of Sound and Vibration 9, 28-48. Acoustic wave propagation in a sheared fluid contained in a duct. 18. U. R. KRIS'IIANSENand F. J. FAHY 1972 Journal of Soundand Vibration 24, 315-335. Scattering of acoustic waves by an N-layer periodic grating.