This paper describes the ongoing study of nuclear facility safety enhancement using Sandia National Laboratories’ (SNL) computer codes, supported by U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Nuclear Safety Research and Development (NSR&D) Program. Continued DOE NSR&D support, since 2014 has allowed the use of the SNL engineering code suite (SIERRA Mechanics) to further substantiate data in the DOE Handbook published in 1994: DOE-HDBK-3010-94, “Airborne Release Fractions/Rates and Respirable Fractions for Nonreactor Nuclear Facilities.” The use of SIERRA codes allows for a better understanding of the mechanics, dynamics, chemistry and overall physics of airborne release scenarios. SIERRA codes provide insights into the contributing phenomena of source term releases from events such as liquid fires. The 1994 Handbook documents small-scaled, bench-top and limited experiments involving liquid fires, powder spills, pressurized releases, and mechanical insult-induced fragmentation scenarios. Data recorded from these scenarios has been substantiated using SIERRA solid mechanics and fluid mechanics codes.

Data passing among multi-physics SIERRA codes predicted the contaminant release from a drum rupture due to fire even though there is no experimental data available. In the anticipated revision effort of the Handbook by DOE, these computational capabilities could enhance the data in a broader usage and could provide confidence in the safety analysis SIERRA codes can provide the initial source term to be used in the leak path factor (LPF) analyses, which predicts the ST release out of the facility. Typical LPF analysis is done using the MELCOR code, developed at SNL for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Widely used in nuclear reactor applications, MELCOR is a toolbox safety code in the DOE’s central registry for LPF applications. A recent LPF guidance study done by SNL indicated that MELCOR 2.1, along with updated guidance, should replace the obsolete MELCOR 1.8.5 guidance. This new guidance is significantly improved over the previous guidance, utilizing extensive MELCOR validation, including applicable reactor experiments and experiments described in the DOE-HDBK-3010-94 for LPF applications. The latest version of MELCOR should be included in DOE’s central registry, and should be used by safety analysts for LPF analyses.

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