«Cliff Edge Effects» in Safety Justification and Operation of NPP Units
The authors consider phenomena that have signs of «cliff edge effects» according to the definitions of the IAEA and NP7001715: (1) degradation of the protective barrier (fuel rod claddings in surface boiling mode with the deposition of impurities and borates on their surface and heating of the claddings) and (2) departure from nucleate boiling (DNB) on the fuel rod claddings. Despite the fact that the first phenomenon was previously unknown, the safety of the power unit is ensured by the decisions adopted in the project.
The DNB was studied and measures were taken in the project to prevent it under normal operating conditions and anticipated operational occurrences. The protection against the DNB is also obviously ensured by reducing the reactor power due to the control systems and reactor scram. These phenomena do not reach the state of «cliff edge effects» (according to the terminology of the IAEA and federal NPs of the Russian Federation) and are prevented at the initial stages. For a small7size reactor using dispersive fuel, it is possible to provide self7protection against the DNB, namely, due to partial washout of the fuel with the insertion of negative reactivity, followed by a decrease in power and termination of the crisis.
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