At conventional pressurized water reactors (PWRs), cold water stored in the refueling water tank of emergency core cooling system is injected into the primary coolant system through a safety injection (SI) line, which is connected to each cold leg pipe between the main coolant pump and the reactor vessel during the SI operation, which begins on the receipt of a loss of coolant accident signal. In normal reactor power operation mode, the wall of SI line nozzle maintains at high temperature because it is the junction part connected to the cold leg pipe through which the hot main coolant flows. To prevent and relieve excessive transient thermal stress in the nozzle wall, which may be caused by the direct contact of cold water in the SI operation mode, a thermal sleeve in the shape of thin wall cylinder is set in the nozzle part of each SI line. Recently, mechanical failures that the sleeves are separated from the SI branch pipe and fall into the connected cold leg main pipe occurred in sequence at some typical PWR plants in Korea. To find out the root cause of thermal sleeve breakaway failures, the flow situation in the junction of primary coolant main pipe-SI branch pipe and the vibration modal characteristics of the thermal sleeve are investigated in detail by using both computational fluid dynamics code and structure analysis finite element code. As a result, the transient response in fluid pressure exerting on the local part of thermal sleeve wall surface to the primary coolant flow through the pipe junction area during the normal reactor operation mode shows oscillatory characteristics with the frequencies ranging from . These frequencies coincide with the lower mode natural frequencies of thermal sleeve, which has a pinned support condition on the outer surface with the circumferential prominence set into the circumferential groove on the inner surface of SI nozzle at the midheight of thermal sleeve. In addition, the variation of pressure on the thermal sleeve surface yields alternating forces and torques in the directions of two rectangular axes perpendicular to the longitudinal axis of cylindrical thermal sleeve, which causes both rolling and pitching motions of the thermal sleeve. Consequently, it is seen that this flow situation surrounding the thermal sleeve during the normal reactor operation can induce resonant vibrations accompanying the shaking motion of the thermal sleeve at the pinned support condition, which finally leads to the failures of thermal sleeve breakaway from the SI nozzle.
Root Cause Analysis of SI Nozzle Thermal Sleeve Breakaway Failures Occurring at PWR Plants
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Jo, J. C., Jhung, M. J., Yu, S. O., Kim, H. J., and Yune, Y. G. (November 24, 2008). "Root Cause Analysis of SI Nozzle Thermal Sleeve Breakaway Failures Occurring at PWR Plants." ASME. J. Pressure Vessel Technol. February 2009; 131(1): 011304. https://doi.org/10.1115/1.2980017
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