Experimental observations of boric acid precipitation scenarios

R. Vaghetto, M. Childs, P. Jones, S. Lee, E. Kee, Y. A. Hassan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

During a Loss of Coolant Accident (LOCA) in Light Water Reactors (LWR), borated water is injected into the core through the safety injection system. The continuous vaporization of the water from the core may increase the concentration of boric acid in the core that, under certain conditions may reach the solubility limit and precipitate. This includes scenarios where the liquid water supply to the core is affected by possible blockages due to debris accumulation. Questions have been raised on the effects of the precipitate in the core on the flow behavior, including the possibility of additional blockages produced by precipitate accumulation. A simple experimental facility was constructed to perform experimental observations of the behavior of borated water under the combined effects of the boiling and the boric acid precipitation (BAP). The facility consists of a transparent polycarbonate vertical pipe where forty-five heated rods have been installed to supply the power to the water to reach the saturation temperature, and maintain a desired boil-off rate. The layout and geometry of the experimental apparatus were conceived to emulate a simplified core of a Pressurized Water Reactor (PWR). Experimental observations have been conducted under two different conditions. Preliminary tests were conducted to observe the behavior of the water and the boric acid precipitate during a boil-off scenario without borated water addition (decreasing water level). During the main test runs, borated water was constantly injected from the top of the test section to maintain a constant mixture level in the test section. Both tests assumed no flow from the bottom of the test section which may be the case of PWR LOCA scenarios in presence of debris-generated core blockage. The observations performed with a set of cameras installed around the test section showed interesting effects of the vapor bubbles on the boric acid precipitate migration and accumulation in the test section. The results may help addressing some basic questions regarding the effect of the precipitation of boric acid during core blockage LOCA scenarios and, provide the basis for further experimental and computational analysis required to resolve the BAP issue as part of the Generic Safety Issue 191.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)422-428
Number of pages7
JournalNuclear Engineering and Design
Volume312
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Nuclear and High Energy Physics
  • Nuclear Energy and Engineering
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Mechanical Engineering

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