Reactor Vessel

Reactor Vessel

A reactor pressure vessel in a nuclear power plant is the pressure vessel containing the nuclear reactor coolant and reactor core.

Not all power reactors have a reactor vessel. Power reactors are generally classified by the type of coolant rather than by the configuration of the reactor vessel used to contain the coolant. The classifications are:

  • Light water reactor - Includes the PWR, BWR. Vast majority of nuclear power reactors are of this type.
  • Graphite moderated reactor - Includes the Chernobyl Reactor RBMK that has a highly unusual reactor configuration compared to the vast majority of nuclear powerplants in Russia or around the world.
  • Gas cooled thermal reactor - Includes the AGR, the Gas Cooled Fast Breeder Reactor or GCFR, and the HTGR. An example of a Gas Cooled Reactor is the British Magnox.
  • Heavy water reactor - Utilize heavy water, or water with a higher than normal proportion of the hydrogen isotope deuterium in some manner, however D2O (heavy water) is more expensive and may be used as a main component, but not necessarily as a coolant in this case. An example of a heavy water reactor is Canada's CANDU reactor.
  • Liquid metal cooled reactor - Utilize a liquid metal, such as sodium or a lead-bismuth alloy to cool the reactor core.
  • Molten Salt Reactor - Salts, typically fluorides of the alkali metals and alkali earth metals, are used as the coolant. Operation is similar to metal-cooled reactors with high temperatures and low pressures, reducing pressure exerted on the reactor vessel versus water/steam-cooled designs.

Of the main classes of reactor with a pressure vessel, the PWR is unique in that the pressure vessel suffers significant neutron irradiation (called fluence) during operation, and may become brittle over time as a result. In particular, the larger pressure vessel of the BWR is better shielded from the neutron flux, so although more expensive to manufacture in the first place because of this extra size, it has an advantage in not needing annealing to extend its life.

Annealing of PWR reactor vessels to extend their working life is a complex and high-value technology being actively developed by both nuclear service providers (AREVA) and operators of PWRs.

Read more about Reactor Vessel:  See Also

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SL-1 - Cause
... that the main control rod was actually withdrawn approximately 26 inches, causing the reactor to go prompt critical, which resulted in the steam explosion ... caused by this heating process caused water hammer as water was accelerated upwards toward the reactor vessel head, producing approximately 10,000 pounds per square inch (69,000 kPa) of pressure on ... The water hammer not only caused extreme physical damage and distortion of the reactor vessel, it also caused the shield plugs of the vessel to be ejected, one of which impaled Legg ...
AVR Reactor
... The AVR reactor (German Arbeitsgemeinschaft Versuchsreaktor) was a prototype pebble bed reactor at J├╝lich Research Centre in West Germany ... As a consequence the whole reactor vessel became heavily contaminated by Cs-137 and Sr-90 ... Some contamination was also found in soil/groundwater under the reactor, as the German government confirmed in February, 2010 ...
Boiling Water Reactors - Advantages and Disadvantages - Advantages
... The reactor vessel and associated components operate at a substantially lower pressure (about 75 times atmospheric pressure) compared to a PWR (about 158 times ... Pressure vessel is subject to significantly less irradiation compared to a PWR, and so does not become as brittle with age ... Fewer components due to no steam generators and no pressurizer vessel ...
Nuclear Reactor Safety Systems - Containment Systems - Reactor Vessel
... The reactor vessel is the first layer of shielding around the nuclear fuel and usually is designed to trap most of the radiation released during a nuclear ... The reactor vessel is also designed to withstand high pressures ...
Reactor Vessel - See Also
... Nuclear physics Nuclear reactor physics Nuclear reactor technology Nuclear reactor vessels ...

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