For the Reactor Pressure Vessel (RPV) assessment and lifetime evaluation of the nuclear plants, French Utilities apply a series of calculations including thermal-hydraulic, thermo mechanical and fracture mechanics studies in order to study the Pressurized Thermal Shock (PTS) in the downcomer caused by the safety injection. Within the frame of the plant lifetime project, integrity assessments of the French 900 MWe (3-loops) series RPV have been performed. A gain for safety margins to fast fracture of the RPV can be found with a 3D modeling of thermal-hydraulics loads. From a physical phenomena point of view, the results of the system code analysis (CATHARE computation) of the PTS transient induce two kinds of scenarios: single phase and two-phase flows in the cold leg. In the case where the cold legs are partially filled with steam, it becomes a two-phase problem and new important effects occur. Thus, an advanced prediction of RPV thermal loading during these transients requires sophisticated two-phase, local scale, 3D codes. For that purpose, a program has been set up to extend the capabilities of the NEPTUNE_CFD two-phase solver which is the tool able to solve two-phase flow configuration. At the same time, a simplified approach has shown that for this kind of scenario where the cold leg is weakly uncovered, a free surface calculation (without phase change) was sufficient to respect the necessary criteria of safety. Considering the time duration of 3D computation and the large number of cases, EDF and AREVA-NP decided to share the effort. The two teams use the NEPTUNE_CFD code (coupled with the thermal solid SYRTHES code) for thermal-hydraulic computations. The thermo mechanical code used is CALORI. According to this approach and to reduce the CPU time, two computations have been performed for 2 and 3 Small Break Loss Of Coolant Accident (SBLOCA) on a one-third RPV model. Computations on a complete RPV model have been performed to demonstrate the relevance of the one-third RPV model. The studies have been performed by two independent teams from EDF and AREVA-NP. The investigated configuration corresponds to the injection of cold water in the RPV during a penalizing representation of a primary break transient and its impact on the solid part formed by cladding and base metal. Numerical results are given in terms of fluid temperature in the cold legs and in the downcomer. The obtained numerical description of the transient is used as boundary conditions for a full mechanical computation of the stresses. The results show that such a complete thermal-hydraulic and mechanical 3-dimensional analysis improves the evaluation of the consequences of the loading on the stress fields and eventually the margins to fast fracture of the RPV. The good agreement observed between a one-third RPV model and a complete RPV model results confirms the validity of the approach.

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