Abstract

In this paper, an integrity assessment of a reference Reactor Pressure Vessel (RPV) under Pressurized Thermal Shock (PTS) is performed. The assessment is based on a multi-step simulation scheme, which includes the thermo-hydraulic, thermo-mechanical and fracture mechanics analyses. The proposed strategy uses a three dimensional (3D) finite element model (FEM) of the RPV with the Abaqus code to solve the thermo-mechanical problem for the scenario of a Large-Break Loss-of-Coolant Accident (LBLOCA). In order to obtain the boundary conditions for the thermal analysis, the thermo-hydraulic results from a 3D RPV model developed in the system code TRACE are used. The fracture mechanics analysis is carried out on submodels defined on the areas of interest. Submodels containing cracks or flaws are also located in regions of the RPV where there might be a concentration of stresses during the PTS. The calculation of stress intensity factor (SIF) makes use of the eXtended FEM (XFEM) approach. The computed SIF of the postulated cracks at the inner surface of the RPV wall are compared with the ASME fracture toughness curve of the embrittled RPV material.

For different transient scenarios, the boundary conditions were previously calculated with a computational fluid dynamics (CFD) model. However, cross-verification of the results has shown consistency of both CFD and TRACE models. Moreover, the use of the later is very convenient for the integrity analyses as it is clearly less computationally expensive than CFD. Therefore, it can be used to calculate different PTS scenarios including different break sizes and break locations. The main findings from fracture mechanics analyses of the RPV subjected to LBLOCA are summarized and compared. The presented results also allow us to study the influence of the dynamic cooling plume on the stress intensity factor in more detail than with the conventional one-dimensional method. However, the plumes calculated with both approaches are different. How much this difference affects the integrity assessment of the RPV is discussed in the paper.

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