Condensation of steam on the primary side of a steam generator in a pressurized water reactor (PWR) is one means of removing decay heat during some accident scenarios, including small break loss of coolant accident (SBLOCA). However, when noncondensable gasses mix with steam, it impairs condensation. To correctly predict plant behavior, nuclear power plant (NPP) safety analysis codes such as RELAP5-3D must model the effect of condensation in the presence of noncondensables properly.
A potential error in the RELAP5-3D code was reported in the condensation model in the presence of noncondensables by the University of Wisconsin. The report indicated that the calculated condensation heat flux was under-predicted due to the modeling of the mass transfer in the gas mixture. The original documentation describing the implementation of the model was reviewed and compared with alternative formulations. An alternative that uses saturation vapor density at temperature of total pressure instead of the saturation vapor density at vapor partial pressure for calculating vapor mass flux was implemented. Comparison of the alternative method with the original against experimental data for several test cases showed improvement for most test cases.