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Experimental Investigations Relevant for Hydrogen and Fission Product Issues Raised by the Fukushima Accident


The accident at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in March 2011, caused by an earthquake and a subsequent tsunami, resulted in a failure of the power systems that are needed to cool the reactors at the plant. The accident progression in the absence of heat removal systems caused Units 1-3 to undergo fuel melting. Containment pressurization and hydrogen explosions ultimately resulted in the escape of radioactivity from reactor containments into the atmosphere and ocean. Problems in containment venting operation, leakage from primary containment boundary to the reactor building, improper functioning of standby gas treatment system (SGTS), unmitigated hydrogen accumulation in the reactor building were identified as some of the reasons those added-up in the severity of the accident. The Fukushima accident not only initiated worldwide demand for installation of adequate control and mitigation measures to minimize the potential source term to the environment but also advocated assessment of the existing mitigation systems performance behavior under a wide range of postulated accident scenarios. The uncertainty in estimating the released fraction of the radionuclides due to the Fukushima accident also underlined the need for comprehensive understanding of fission product behavior as a function of the thermal hydraulic conditions and the type of gaseous, aqueous, and solid materials available for interaction, e.g., gas components, decontamination paint, aerosols, and water pools. In the light of the Fukushima accident, additional experimental needs identified for hydrogen and fission product issues need to be investigated in an integrated and optimized way. Additionally, as more and more passive safety systems, such as passive autocatalytic recombiners and filtered containment venting systems are being retrofitted in current reactors and also planned for future reactors, identified hydrogen and fission product issues will need to be coupled with the operation of passive safety systems in phenomena oriented and coupled effects experiments. In the present paper, potential hydrogen and fission product issues raised by the Fukushima accident are discussed. The discussion focuses on hydrogen and fission product behavior inside nuclear power plant containments under severe accident conditions. The relevant experimental investigations conducted in the technical scale containment THAI (thermal hydraulics, hydrogen, aerosols, and iodine) test facility (9.2 m high, 3.2 m in diameter, and 60 m3 volume) are discussed in the light of the Fukushima accident.

Funding source: THAI experimental research program is funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, on the basis of a decision of the German Bundestag (Projects number 1501218, 1501272, 1501325, 1501326, 1501361, 1501420, 1501455]. The sponsorship by the countries of the OECD/NEA THAI and OECD/NEA THAI 2 is gratefully acknowledged
Related subjects: Safety
Countries: Germany

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