The Simulation and Study of Conditions Leading to Axial Offset Anomaly in Pressurized Water Reactors

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Hawkes, Joshua Mahlon
Abdel-Khalik, Said I.
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Axial offset anomaly (AOA) in pressurized water reactors (PWR) refers to deviation of the measured neutron flux in the top half of the core from the predicted values. Among other difficulties, AOA reduces the shutdown margin, and may force the plant to reduce power output. AOA is believed to be caused by three related phenomena occurring in the core while operating at full power: sub-cooled nucleate boiling concentrated mainly in the upper half of the core, corrosion product deposition on the cladding surface (crud), and the deposition of boron within the porous crud layer in regions of vigorous sub-cooled boiling. This study replicates the conditions within the PWR primary coolant; specifically, the temperature, pressure, peak surface heat flux, coolant velocity and water chemistry are simulated in order to produce prototypical crud on an electrically heated Zircaloy-4 test element. At the conclusion of each test run, the heated Zircaloy-4 test element is rapidly isolated from the coolant in order to trap any soluble boron species that may be present in the crud layer. The results of this investigation indicate that prototypical crud with significant boron deposition can be produced. The deposited boron compound has been determined to be lithium tetraborate (Li2B4O7). Comparative experiments have been run to determine the effect of coolant pH, concentration and type of additives, and duration of exposure on the thickness of the crud deposit. The data obtained in this investigation can be used to validate mechanistic models for crud deposition and AOA in pressurized water reactors.
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