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International Conference on Nuclear Energy for New Europe 2009, Bled : Slovénie (2009)
Modelling of Zry-4 cladding oxidation by air, under severe accident conditions using the MAAP4 code
E. Beuzet1, J. S. Lamy1, A. Bretault1, E. Simoni2

In a nuclear power plant, a potential risk in some low probability situations in severe accidents is air ingress into the vessel. Air is a highly oxidizing atmosphere that can lead to an enhanced core oxidation and degradation affecting the release of Fission Products (FP), especially increasing that of ruthenium. This FP is of particular importance because of its high radio-toxicity and its ability to form highly volatile oxides. Oxygen affinity is decreasing between Zircaloy cladding, fuel and ruthenium inclusions in the fuel. It is consequently of great need to understand the phenomena governing cladding oxidation by air as a prerequisite for the source term issues. A review of existing data in the field of Zircaloy-4 oxidation in air-containing atmosphere shows that this phenomenon is quantitatively well understood. The cladding oxidation process can be divided into two kinetic regimes separated by a breakaway transition. Before transition, a protective dense zirconia scale grows following a solid state diffusion-limited regime for which experimental data are well fitted by a parabolic time dependence. For a given thickness, which depends mainly on temperature and the extent of pre-oxidation in steam, the dense scale can potentially breakdown. In case of breakaway combined with oxygen starvation, cladding oxidation can then be much faster because of the combined action of oxygen and nitrogen through a complex self sustaining nitriding-oxidation process. A review of the pre-existing correlations used to simulate zirconia scale growth under air atmospheres shows a high degree of variation from parabolic to accelerated time dependence. Variations also exist in the choice of the breakaway parameter based on zirconia phase change or oxide thickness. Several correlations and breakaway parameters found in the literature were implemented in the MAAP4.07 Severe Accident code. They were assessed by simulation of the QUENCH-10 test, which is a semi-integral test designed to study fuel bundle exposure to steam first and then to air. This paper deals with the main results obtained with MAAP4.07 when simulating QUENCH-10.
1 :  EDF R&D
2 :  IPNO - Institut de Physique Nucléaire d'Orsay