Nordic collaboration: Impact of Ag and NOx compounds on the transport of ruthenium in the primary circuit of NPP in a severe accident

Teemu Kärkelä, Ivan Kajan, Unto Tapper, Leena-Sisko Johansson, Mélany Gouëllo, Henrik Ramebäck, Stina Holmgren, Ari Auvinen, Christian Ekberg

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference article in proceedingsScientificpeer-review


    During the operation of a nuclear power plant (NPP), a significant amount of ruthenium is built up in the fuel as a product of the nuclear fission. The importance of ruthenium from the radiological point of view is mainly due to the isotopes 103Ru and 106Ru with half-lives of 39.35 days and 373.5 days, respectively. When ruthenium is released from the fuel to the environment in a severe NPP accident, these ruthenium isotopes cause a radiotoxic risk to the population both in a short and long term by building-up to the human body and external exposure to the radiation, thus possibly leading to a development of cancer. The transport of ruthenium through a reactor coolant system (RCS), after being released from the fuel, has been investigated in several experimental programmes recently. The VTT Ru transport programme has shown that the release of Ru from RuO2 powder was dependent on the oxygen partial pressure in air-steam atmospheres at 827, 1027, 1227 and 1427 °C. The highest fraction of gaseous RuO4 at the outlet of the model primary circuit was observed at 1027 °C oxidation temperature. At higher temperatures, ruthenium transported mainly as RuO2 aerosol. In the experiments of RUSET programme it was observed that the presence of other FPs, e.g. BaO and CeO2, as mixed with the metallic Ru precursor when the sample was oxidized at 1100 °C, decreased the fraction of gaseous RuO4 in the outlet air over the stainless steel surface compared to the pure Ru oxidation. It was also shown that the transport of RuO4 was dependent on the surface material in the coolant circuit. In both VTT and RUSET programmes it was noticed, that the partial pressure of RuO4 reaching the outlet of model primary circuit was in the range of 10-7 to 10-6 bar, which is significantly higher than what is expected based on thermodynamic equilibrium calculations. As the previous studies have mainly been conducted in pure air-steam atmospheres, the current study was dedicated to air ingress conditions with representative airborne fission product/control rod (Ag) and air radiolysis (NOx) species which were mixed with vaporized Ru oxides. The aim was to study the impact of these additives on the transport of ruthenium as gas and particles through the primary circuit of nuclear power plant in a severe accident. As a main outcome, the transport of gaseous ruthenium through the facility increased significantly when the oxidizing NO2 gas was fed into the atmosphere. The feed of pure silver particles into the gas flow showed a significant decrease in gaseous RuO4 reaching the outlet of the facility. Simultaneously, a noticeable increase of ruthenium in form of RuO2 trapped on the filter was observed. When both silver aerosol and NO2 in form of AgNO3 compound were fed into the atmosphere, the transport of ruthenium in gaseous and aerosol forms was promoted. Based on experiments it was concluded that the composition of atmosphere in the primary circuit will have a notable effect on the speciation of ruthenium transported into the containment building during a severe accident.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationProceedings of NENE 2016
    Number of pages13
    Publication statusPublished - 2016
    MoE publication typeA4 Article in a conference publication
    Event25th International Conference Nuclear Energy for New Europe, NENE 2016 - Portoroz, Slovenia
    Duration: 5 Sept 20168 Sept 2016


    Conference25th International Conference Nuclear Energy for New Europe, NENE 2016
    Abbreviated titleNENE 2016


    • severe accident
    • source term
    • ruthenium
    • RCS
    • air radiolysis


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