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The Pebble Bed Modular Reactor Concept

979 words - 4 pages

The Modular Pebble Bed Reactor Concept Dr. Rudolf Schulter of Germany started the concept of the Modular Pebble Bed Nuclear Reactor (PBMR), during the late 1950's. This new nuclear power plant concept was soon underway until the Chernobyl accident, which caused a lot of anti-nuclear protest throughout Europe, which stopped the project for quite some time until more recently where the idea has once again surfaced in South Africa. The PBMR concept is one based on research and development gained in the field of high temperature reactor technology, which began in the 1980's in Germany.The PBMR represents a new generation of advanced nuclear reactors, which sets it apart from the conventional ...view middle of the document...

In dealing with the other safety features of the Pebble Bed Modular Reactor, the use of graphite as a structural material within the reactor implies that the moderation within the reactor along with the precise configuration of the fuel elements can not change under any circumstances. This implies that a core meltdown is not possible in this type of reactor, and can be ruled out. Helium gas is used as a coolant in the reactor, which will not change phase during any point within in the operating range of the reactor. This is another added safety feature, as helium is chemically and radiological inert, and will not react with the graphite or metallic core components used in the design. The PBMR has a low core power density, compared with other conventional nuclear reactors. This feature along with the thermal conductivity of the graphite will ensure that the fuel element temperature does not exceed 1600 degrees Celsius. It has been demonstrated that the fuel particles can operate at this high of temperature without losing its capability as an efficient barrier against the release of fission products. The peak temperature of 1600 degrees is below the temperature that may cause damage to the fuel, which is 2000 degrees. Natural convection, conduction and radiation, independent of the reactor coolant conditions achieve the removal of decay heat. This combination of the low power density of the reactor core and temperature resistance of the fuel underpins the safety characteristics of this type of nuclear reactor. The PBMR is inherently safe as result of the design, materials used, fuel, and physics involved. This means that should a worst case scenario occur, no human intervention is required in the short or medium term.In...

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