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Sodium safety issues in nuclear power plants

pubblicazioni - Articolo

Sodium safety issues in nuclear power plants

Many nuclear reactors of Gen IV will be cooled using liquid sodium. This is a very reactive metal and must be carefully controlled to avoid leaks that can trigger damaging events as fires. Brief challenges outlines facing the Sodium Fast Reactor safety.

The Sodium-cooled Fast Reactor (SFR) system is one of a series of planned nuclear reactor designs currently being researched. The SFR is a fast-neutron spectrum reactor that could be used to produce nuclear and electric energy as part of a new generation of systems from the year 2030 – 2040. The SFR uses liquid sodium as a coolant. This metal, in liquid form, has very good properties from the point of view of fast reactor physics and as a coolant. However, while sodium has good safety properties generally, it is a very reactive metal when mixed with oxygen and water, and it has the potential to pose a significant risk of fire if a leak occurs in the cooling system. As a result, the SFR system presents distinct challenges that the nuclear power industry needs to address as it develops this technology. This paper exa­mines these challenges, outlining current knowledge of liquid sodium safety, past and current research results and real case accidents. Keywords: Nuclear fast reactors, Generation IV, Sodium fire, Aerosol, Sodium oxides, Sodium-water, Sodium-water-air, Sodium-concrete.

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