Nuclear Engineering Program

A Look at Nuclear Science and Technology
Reactor Safety

L. R. Foulke
Module 7.1 Defense in Depth

Primary Objectives of Reactor Safety
• The primary objectives of reactor safety are: – Shutdown the reactor – Maintain it in a shutdown condition – Cool the core – Contain the radioactive material • How are these objectives accomplished in today’s reactors?

Nuclear Engineering Program

7E+8 2.4E+8 4.4E+8 2.5E+8 3.2E+8 7.Radioactive materials in a 3300-MW(t) light water reactor core grouped by relative volatility Volatility Noble Gases Very Volatile Moderately Volatile Elements Krypton (Kr) Xenon (Xe) Iodine (I) Cesium (Cs) Tellurium (Te) Strontium (Sr) Barium (Ba) Ruthenium (Ru) Lanthanum (La) Cerium (Ce) Inventory (Ci) 1.5E+8 2.7E+8 3.3E+7 1.8E+8 3.9E+8 Table Source: See Note 1 Less Volatile .

Energy Sources • Energy Sources During an Accident – Stored Energy – Nuclear Transients – Decay Heat – Chemical Reactions – External Events Nuclear Engineering Program .

Energy Sources • Stored Energy in Water-Cooled Reactors • Pressure Suddenly Below Saturation • Flashes to Steam Vapor • Nuclear Transients – Reactivity Insertion – Power Level Increase – Power Pulse Nuclear Engineering Program .

5% of Full Power at Shutdown • Dies Out Slowly (-1/5 Power) • Potentially Large Energy Source – Melting / Destruction of Fuel w/o Cooling – Severe Flow Blockage – Loss of Coolant – Absence of Heat Sink P(t) t0 t t Nuclear Engineering Program .• Decay Heat Energy Sources – Fission-Product Decay • ~7.

Energy Sources • Chemical Reactions – Water Reactors • Zirconium / Cladding • Stainless Steel / Structures • Oxidation Before Melting – Integrity – Fragmentation – Reaction Rate Increases With Temperature – Energy Release ~ Amount of Metal Involved – Reaction releases hydrogen gas Nuclear Engineering Program .

Energy Sources • External Energy Sources – Natural Events • • • • • Flood Hurricane Tornado Earthquake Tsunami – Man-Made Events • Aircraft Impact • Industrial Explosion • Variable / Tied to Site Selection Nuclear Engineering Program .

Engineered Safety Features Nuclear Engineering Program Image Source: See Note 2 .

• Operating reactors contain an enormous inventory of radioactive products (fuel.Reactor Safety Fundamentals • What is the biggest risk to the public that is unique to nuclear power reactors? – Release of radioactive materials. fission products. activation products) • Release is prevented by Multiple-Barrier Design – Pellet – Cladding – Reactor Primary Coolant System – Containment / Safety Systems Nuclear Engineering Program .

Multiple Barriers 1st & 2nd Barriers Pellet & Cladding Nuclear Engineering Program 3rd Barrier Primary-System Boundary 4th Barrier Reactor Containment Image Source: See Note 3 .

What is Defense in Depth? • Not defined in legislation or regulations • Multiple barriers to release of radionuclides – ceramic fuel – metallic cladding – pressure boundary of reactor coolant system – containment – exclusion area. low population zone. offsite emergency response plan Nuclear Engineering Program .

and the public – Prevention • Design maintenance and operation procedures to reduce the chances of an incident occurring. workers. • Redundant systems to protect against some mechanical failures.• All commercial reactors are designed with a three-tiered defense-in-depth strategy for protecting the reactor. Defense-in-Depth – Protection • Design features and procedures to halt / deal with incidents before they become worse (cause damage). – Mitigation • Limit the consequences of accidents that occur. Nuclear Engineering Program .

Incident Prevention • Prevention .Avoid operational occurrences (or accidents) that can cause • System damage • Loss of fuel performance • Abnormal release of radioactive materials • • • • • • • High reliability components Inherently stable operating characteristics Safety margins Testing and inspections Instrumentation and automatic control Training Quality assurance • Prevention Elements Nuclear Engineering Program .

prepare protective actions for each incident/accident. • • • • Fast-acting shutdown (trip/scram) Pressure relief (prevent ruptures) Interlocks Automatic monitoring / safety-system initiation Nuclear Engineering Program .Incident Protection • Protection – Recognize / accept inevitable failures and errors – Halt unlikely incidents and/or transients • Provide automatic and manual systems to quickly shutdown (trip/scram) the reactor – Postulate and analyze every reasonably conceivable failure.

Incident Mitigation • Mitigation – Limit Consequences of Accidents – Evaluate Low Probability Severe CoreDamaging Accident – Establish Engineering Safety Systems Performance Criteria – Measures • Emergency Feed / Core-Cooling / Electric Power • Containment • Emergency Planning Nuclear Engineering Program .

Other Safety Factors • Other nuclear safety factors – Strong Technical / Scientific Emphasis – Free / Open International Exchange • Knowledge / Experience • Feedback to the Design Process – Voluntary Peer Oversight / Regulatory Controls • Independent Verification • Independent verification does NOT Replace Responsible Design/Operation Nuclear Engineering Program .

Why Defense in Depth? • A way to compensate for uncertainty – In 1950-1960 time frame there was little experience with nuclear power plant operation – Idea was to postulate a variety of design-basis accidents and show deterministically that they would not result in core damage – No defensible estimates of the relative likelihoods of potential accidents existed – Focus was on design-basis large-break loss of coolant accidents (LOCAs) Nuclear Engineering Program .

What is wrong with Defense in Depth? • It’s expensive • It creates complexity • It is unbounded • It may or may not work Nuclear Engineering Program .

Nuclear Engineering Program .Reactor Safety Analyses • Part of the licensing procedure for every commercial reactor design is to prove that the reactor can operate safely in normal operating conditions as well as selected accident conditions • The safety analysis shows the NRC – The plant is designed to remove heat from the core under all conditions – The plant can handle transients – The plant/core can survive “design-basis” severe accidents – The engineered safety systems designed to cope with off-normal conditions.

” • Two qualitative goals were established: – Individual members of the public should be provided a level of protection from the consequences of nuclear power plant operation such that individuals bear no significant additional risk to life and Safety Goals (http://www. the goals expressed "the Commission's views on the level of risks to public health and safety that the industry should strive for in its nuclear power plants.pdf) • Issued in 1986.nrc. Nuclear Engineering Program .

population are generally exposed. Nuclear Engineering Program .S. two quantitative health objectives (QHOs) were also established: – The risk to an average individual in the vicinity of a nuclear power plant of prompt fatalities that might result from reactor accidents should not exceed one-tenth of one percent (0. • To quantify these goals.1 percent) of the sum of prompt fatality risks resulting from other accidents to which members of the U.– Societal risks to life and health from nuclear power plant operation should be comparable to or less than the risks of generating electricity by viable competing technologies and should not be a significant addition to other societal risks.

– The risk to the population in the area near a nuclear power plant of cancer fatalities that might result from nuclear power plant operation should not exceed one-tenth of one percent (0. Nuclear Engineering Program .1 percent) of the sum of cancer fatality risks resulting from all other causes.

gov/docs/ML0727/ML072740 014. http://www. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Haskin. (1994). Office of Nuclear Regulatory Research.nrc. NUREG/ ontainment_wall_construction.Image Source Notes 1. F.pdf 2. L. E. Reprinted with permission from the USNRC. Reprinted with permission from Nuclear Energy Institute.S.html .jpg 3.nei. Table 5. Perspectives on Reactor Safety. & Camp. A. http://pbadupws.nrc. http://www.

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