In order to enhance the feasibility of in-vessel retention (IVR) of molten core material during a severe accident for high-power reactors, an in-vessel core catcher (IVCC) was designed and evaluated as part of a joint United States-Korean International Nuclear Energy Research Initiative (INERI). The proposed IVCC is expected to increase the thermal margin for success of IVR by providing an "engineered gap" for heat transfer from materials that relocate during a severe accident and potentially serving as a sacrificial material under a severe accident. In this study, LAVA-GAP experiments were performed to investigate the thermal and mechanical performance of the IVCC using the alumina melt as simulant. The LAVA-GAP experiments aim to examine the feasibility and sustainability of the IVCC under the various test conditions using 1/8th scale hemispherical test sections. As a feasibility test of the proposed IVCC in this INERI project, the effects of IVCC base steel materials, internal coating materials, and gap size between the IVCC and the vessel lower head were examined. The test results indicated that the internally coated IVCC has high thermal performance compared with the uncoated IVCC. In terms of integrity of the base steel, carbon steel is superior to stainless steel and the effect of bond coat is found to be trivial for the tests performed in this study. The thermal load is mitigated via boiling heat removal in the gap between the IVCC and the vessel lower head. The current test results imply that gaps less than 10 mm are not enough to guarantee effective cooling induced by water ingression and steam venting there through. Selection of endurable material and pertinent gap size is needed to implement the proposed IVCC concept into advanced reactor designs.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Nuclear and High Energy Physics
- Nuclear Energy and Engineering
- General Materials Science
- Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
- Waste Management and Disposal
- Mechanical Engineering