Generic investigations regarding the influence of corrosion processes of hot-dip galvanized PWR containment installations on strainer clogging as well as on the coolant chemistry and possible resulting in-core effects are carried out within joint research projects of the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR), TU Dresden (TUD) and Zittau-Görlitz University of Applied Sciences (HSZG). Lab-scale experiments at HZDR and TUD are focused on elucidation of physico-chemical corrosion and precipitation processes as well as resulting clogging effects.

Results of generic experiments in a lab-scale corrosion test facility suggest that there is a multi-stage corrosion process. The first stage comprises dissolution of the zinc layer in the coolant forming zinc ions and in turn affecting the coolant chemistry. During the second stage, the base material (steel) corrodes forming insoluble corrosion particles, which can subsequently lead to accelerated clogging of fiber-laden strainers within a few hours. The main influences on corrosion were identified as impact of the coolant jet onto the corroding surface, water chemistry and zinc surface / coolant volume ratio.

Furthermore, retrograde solubility of zinc corrosion products in boric acid containing coolants with increasing temperature was observed. Thus, formation and deposition of solid corrosion products cannot be ruled out if zinc containing coolant is heated up during its recirculation into hot downstream components (e.g. hot-spots in core). Corrosion experiments, which included formation of corrosion products at a heated cladding tube, proved that zinc, dissolved in the coolant at low sump temperatures, turns into solid deposits of zinc borates when contacting heated zircaloy surfaces. Due to alternating heating and cooling of the coolant during sump recirculation operation, a cycle of zinc corrosion and zinc borate precipitation may be initiated, which may eventually influence the thermal hydraulics in downstream components during the post-LOCA stage. The results obtained at lab-scale were confirmed by corresponding experiments in semi-technical test facilities of the project partner HSZG.

Based on the experimental results, water chemical measures were tested to reduce corrosion and/or zinc borate precipitation effects.

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