The overpressure fragility of a Mark I boiling water reactor drywell was performed by detailed finite element (FE) analysis. The drywell overpressure capacity is controlled by the onset of leakage in the bolted head flange connection once separation exceeds the capacity of the silicone rubber O-ring seals.

The FE analysis was conducted at 6 discrete accident temperatures, ranging from 150 to 425°C. The overpressure evaluation used an axisymmetric model of the drywell head region for computational efficiency, and verified it by comparing to results from one FE model which used 3D solid elements. The mechanical properties of the steel materials were defined as temperature-dependent linear-elastic.

The median overpressure capacity at each temperature was determined using a 2-step thermal-stress analysis procedure. First, a steady-state heat transfer analysis was conducted to map out the temperature distribution in the drywell wall, which is exposed to the accident temperature on the inside and ambient temperature on the outside. Second, a quasi-static multi-step stress analysis was performed. The vertical differential movement between the flange surfaces was monitored and compared to the O-ring rebound capacity to define the pressure at the onset of leakage. After leakage occurred, the relationship between leakage area and increased pressure was recorded.

The evaluation predicted the median overpressure capacity and the lognormal standard deviation for uncertainty in O-ring rebound capacities, bolt preload, and model sophistication, in addition to the median pressure-leak area relationship.

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