Current Safety Research
Current efforts in nuclear reactor safety research around the world are
concentrating on a number of areas. These include
Separate Effects and Integral System Studies
- This work focuses on how the set of
components that make up a nuclear power plant work together. Nuclear
power plant bring together a unique combination of thermal, hydraulic,
and neutronic systems together. To study such systems requires complex
computer codes for simulation and analysis. The primary goal of these
studies is to quantify safety margins for safe operation and evaluate
the adequacy of designs.
Probability Risk Assessment (PRA)
- Studies in the area of PRA
are concerned with the quantification of risk associated with operation.
Detailed systems analysis and industry experience is combined to
formulate probabilities relating the likelihood of specific events. Nuclear
regulators and industry utilities use the results from PRA studies to
identify potential problems with existing procedures and systems and
perform redesign or rework if necessary.
Advanced Reactor Research - Following the Three Mile Island and
Chernobyl accidents, a new reactor design philosophy emerged that
focused on designs with passive safety features. Major commercial
nuclear power plant vendors have embraced this philosophy and have been
designing the next generation of nuclear power plant that reduce the
load on or eliminate existing safety systems.
Containment Analysis - The lack of an adequate containment over the
Chernobyl-4 was a major factor why that accident was as serious as it
was. The figure below shows the destroyed reactor building after the
While most Light Water Reactors in the rest of the world utilize a
highly engineered and reliable containment, quantitatively little was
understood about the design limits of these containments.
Severe Accident Analysis
- Severe accident analysis involves the
study of structural integrity of reactor components following an
accident that involves fuel melt. The high temperature fuel is capable
of burning through the steel reactor vessel or pressure tube (like
Chernobyl) which can cause a great problem.
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