Corium retention for high power reactors by an in-vessel core catcher in combination with External Reactor Vessel Cooling

J. L. Rempe, D. L. Knudson, K. G. Condie, K. Y. Suh, F. B. Cheung, S. B. Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


If there were inadequate cooling during a reactor accident, a significant amount of core material could become molten and relocate to the lower head of the reactor vessel, as happened in the Three Mile Island Unit 2 (TMI-2) accident. If it is possible to ensure that the vessel lower head remains intact so that relocated core materials are retained within the vessel, the enhanced safety associated with these plants can reduce concerns about containment failure and associated risk. For example, the enhanced safety of the Westinghouse Advanced 600MWe Pressurized Water Reactor (AP600), which relied upon External Reactor Vessel Cooling (ERVC) for in-vessel retention (IVR), resulted in the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission (US NRC) approving the design without requiring certain conventional features common to existing Light Water Reactors (LWRs). Accordingly, IVR of core melt is a key severe accident management strategy adopted by some operating nuclear power plants and proposed for some advanced light water reactors. However, it is not clear that currently-proposed methods to achieve ERVC will provide sufficient heat removal for higher power reactors. A US-Korean International Nuclear Energy Research Initiative (INERI) project has been initiated in which the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory (INEEL), Seoul National University (SNU), Pennsylvania State University (PSU), and the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute (KAERI) will determine if IVR is feasible for reactors up to 1500 MWe. This paper summarizes results from the first year of this 3-year project.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)293-309
Number of pages17
JournalNuclear Engineering and Design
Issue number1-3
StatePublished - May 2004
Event11th International Conference on Nuclear Energy - Tokyo, Japan
Duration: Apr 20 2003Apr 23 2003

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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


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