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Cooling system for a Low-power nuclear facility

#G-1168


A New Type Cooling System Ensuring the Safety of a Low-Power Nuclear Facility Based on the Decommissioned IRT-M Reactor of the Institute of Physics, Georgia

Tech Area / Field

  • FIR-NSS/Nuclear Safety and Safeguarding/Fission Reactors
  • FIR-REA/Reactor Concept/Fission Reactors

Status
3 Approved without Funding

Registration date
20.07.2004

Leading Institute
Tbilisi State University / Institute of Physics (Ge), Georgia, Tbilisi

Supporting institutes

  • NII Optica, Georgia, Tbilisi

Collaborators

  • University of Minnesota / Department of Mechanical Engineering, USA, MN, Minneapolis\nLos Alamos National Laboratory / N-4 Safeguards Systems Group, USA, NM, Los-Alamos\nLehigh University / Mechanical Engineering and Mechanics, USA, PA, Bethlehem\nOak Ridge National Laboratory / Nuclear Science and Technology Division, USA, TN, Oak Ridge

Project summary

The purpose of the Project. The development of a new type cooling system, ensuring the safe operation of a low-power nuclear facility (50kW) created on the basis of decommissioned research IRT-M reactor of the E.Andronikashvili Institute of Physics, Georgian Academy of Sciences» is the theoretical and experimental investigations on the creation of a new type cooling system on the basis of thermosiphon for a low-power nuclear facility, intended for carrying out on its basis the medical-biological and other investigations of scientific and applied character having the fundamental importance for Georgia.

Another purpose of the project is the theoretical analysis and the calculation of the influence of thermosiphon on the physical parameters of the core.

The specific goal of the Project is the creation of a test stand-simulator of nuclear facility on 1:3 scale, on which the hydro- and thermodynamic processes inside the thermosiphon will be studied by a new contactless and inertialess electric capacitance method based on the dependence of capacitance on the characteristics of two-phase fluxes between the plates of capacitor, as well as the study of the influence of micro-grooves and ribs on the increase of heat transfer from the external side of thermosiphon.

Urgency of the problem. In Georgia the pool type IRT-M research nuclear reactor of 8000 kW power was in operation from 1959 to 1988. On its basis the E.Andonikashvili Institute of Physics and other scientific institutions of Georgia carried out the extensive program of investigations in different fields of science and engineering. In 2002 the IRT-M reactor was decommissioned by the method of covering with concrete the lower, high-radioactive part of its tank (about 20 m3). This method is remarkable in that it gives the real possibility to create a new low-power nuclear facility (of about 50kW) in the part of the tank (about 35 m3) remained after covering with concrete, using the infra- structure of IRT-M reactor. Such version of decommissioning of the reactor is not connected with formation and storage of high-radioactive waste, being as a rule, characteristic of nuclear reactors decommissioned by the method of their full dismantling.

The creation of a low-power nuclear facility on the basis of decommissioned IRT-M reactor is of top importance for Georgia, as the creation of such facility gives the possibility for many scientific-research organizations to carry out on its basis the important investigations of both scientific and applied character.

The study of the problem connected with the creation of a new type cooling system on the basis of thermosiphon for cooling the core of nuclear reactor can turn to be very interesting and urgent for other similar facilities, requiring such efficient and safe cooling system. Therefore, the results of this project on the proposed new system of cooling can be interesting not only for Georgia, but for other countries facing the same problem connected with decommissioning the pool-type research nuclear reactors exhausting their operating life.

Nowadays the problem set in the given project has not only the practical importance, but is of great scientific interest as well. However, the solution of this problem is not very simple because of its multiple characters. Therefore, the joint participation of the specialists of the physics and engineering of nuclear reactors and of the specialists of the physics of heat, of electric engineering, mechanics and of other fields in this project makes the successful solution of this problem quite real. Besides, the results of investigations within the frames of the project can become useful and applicable for nuclear reactors of different type.

The set goal can be achieved on the basis of scientific-technical developments carried out by the Institute of Physics in the sphere of physics and engineering of nuclear reactors, as well as by the Institute OPTICA in the sphere of heat exchange, hydrodynamics, exact mechanics and materials science.

The innovations and scientific distinctive of our Project are the following:

1. The possibility of creation of a low-power nuclear facility (50kW) with a new system of cooling the core on the basis of thermosiphon will be studied for the first time.


2. For effective heat removal, the core of nuclear facility will be fully located in the zone of thermosiphon-cooler for the first time.
3. The problems of heat removal from the simulator of fuel element by means of thermosiphon will be studied for the first time on the pilot installation, allowing to create the cooling system operating in the regime of efficient self-control of water temperature in the tank of nuclear reactor and to provide the appreciable inverse power effect of reactivity.
4. The hydrodynamic and heat parameters of two-phase layer inside the thermosiphon will be measured on the basis of a new contactless and inertialess electric capacitance method for the first time.
5. The theoretical calculations of neutron-physical and thermal- hydrodynamical parameters of nuclear reactor cooled by thermosiphon will be carried out for the first time.

Scientific benefits: The main scientific benefit of the proposed project is the obtaining of new data on the operation of low-power nuclear facility with thermosiphon-cooler. It will be obtained also the data on heat and hydrodynamic characteristics of two-phase boiling layer inside the thermosiphon, providing safe and stable operation of nuclear facility with thermosiphon cooling.

Practical benefits: on the basis of thermosiphon, a new system of cooling the core will be developed, allowing to increase significantly the level of safe operation of a low-power nuclear facility created on the base of decommissioned IRT-M nuclear reactor of the Institute of Physics, Georgian Academy of Sciences.

The ecological benefit of the project: The creation and application of the cooling system using thermosiphon will allow to decrease significantly the risk of possible emergency situations, connected with the violation of temperature regimes of a low-power nuclear facility and correspondingly, will decrease remarkably the probability of possible negative effect of the nuclear facility on the personnel and the environment.

The importance of this Project for Georgian scientists and economics. The development and application of the cooling system using thermosiphon will significantly facilitate the realization of the low-power nuclear facility intended for medical-biological and other investigations, having a great importance both for science and engineering and for economics of Georgia. This, in its turn, will allow to keep the already existed jobs and to create new work places, to provide pays for high-skilled former « weapon scientists» and specialists involved in the spheres of the physics and engineering of nuclear reactors, of the physics of heat, electronics, mechanics, etc. (their salary nowadays is 20USD on the average).


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The International Science and Technology Center (ISTC) is an intergovernmental organization connecting scientists from Kazakhstan, Armenia, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Georgia with their peers and research organizations in the EU, Japan, Republic of Korea, Norway and the United States.

 

ISTC facilitates international science projects and assists the global scientific and business community to source and engage with CIS and Georgian institutes that develop or possess an excellence of scientific know-how.

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