Issue No.18 Autumn
(October 2007)


ENS News

Word from the President

A question of logic

ENS Events

ENC 2007

Pime 2008

RRFM 2008

Nestet 2008

Member Societies & Corporate Members

Concept of a future
High Pressure- Boiling Water Reactor (HP-BWR)

Can Austria Survive Without Nuclear Power?

CEA signs European Charter for Researchers and Code of Conduct for the Recruitment of Researchers

Croatian conference focuses on nuclear countries with “small electricity grids.”

YGN Report

ICEM Conference focuses on training and educating tomorrow’s nuclear sepcialists

BNES and Institute of Nuclear Engineers (INucE) organise congress on future of nuclear

The French – Russian Boreal Nights exchange


SIEN 2007: “ Nuclear Power – A New Challenge”

European Institutions

European Commission launches SNETP

ENS World News

NAS makes 150 years of scientific history available online

NucNet News

ENS Members

Links to ENS Member Societies

Links to ENS Corporate Members

Editorial staff
Pime 2008
Pime 2008
10 - 14 February 2008 in Prague

RRFM 2008
2 - 5 March 2008 in Hamburg, Germany


NESTet 2008
4 - 9 May 2008 in Budapest, Hungary

























































































































Department of Nuclear Power Safety, KTH, Royal Institute of Technology
Alba Nova University Center Roslagstullsbacken 21, SE-106 91, Stockholm – Sweden

Concept of a future


Some four hundred Boiling Water Reactors (BWR) and Pressurized Water Reactors (PWR) have been in operation for several decades. The present concept, the High Pressure Boiling Water Reactor (HP-BWR), makes use of this operating experience. The best parts of the two reactor types are used and the troublesome components are left out. This means improved safety. The increased thermal efficiency is beneficial to the environment as less cooling water is released per produced kWh. With some modifications the used components can be used to make this design cost effective and possible to achieve in the currently not too distant future.

1. Introduction

Since the 1950s several hundred Boiling Water and Pressurized Water Reactors (BWRs and PWRs) in use. There is a wealth of operating experience. During this have been time many difficulties occurred with a number of important components. This concept, the High Pressure – Boiling Water Reactor (HP-BWR) offers a solution to use the best parts from each type (BWR and PWR) and leave out the troublesome components. This means an important increase of safety. As an extra benefit, also increased efficiency attained beneficial for the environment as less cooling water is released per produced kWh. The HP-BWR is using –with some modifications- currently manufactured parts making this a cost effective, realistic concept.

2. The High Pressure – Boiling Water Reactor HP-BWR

The High Pressure Boiling Water Reactor (HP-BWR) offers improved nuclear safety and less damage to the environment. The HP-BWR is an environmentally friendly, effective alternative.

The High Pressure- BWR

The High Pressure- BWR

The HP-BWR uses a modified PWR reactor vessel and BWR type fuel and control rods. However, here the cruciform control rods are gravity operated with ample space between the crosses and the fuel boxes. The control roads are manoeuvred electromagnetically, which means that they will drop into the core when there is a loss of electrical power as in the PWRs. The traditional PWR control rods are finger shaped and are surrounded by a tube with a minimum of clearance. The traditional BWR control rods are operated from below with hydraulic pressure. Therefore, at the bottom of the traditional BWR reactor vessel there are a great number of penetration points for the control rods. Directly below the reactor vessel there is an elaborate system of numerous high pressure hydraulic pipes to actuate the control rods. Taking the best fro and leaving out the drawbacks of both the traditional BWR and PWR systems is a substantial safety improvement.

All the pipe connections to the reactor vessel are well above the reactor core. This allows the omission of core spray. The moisture separators and steam dryers are outside the reactor vessel, leaving free space for the control rods.

Internal circulation pumps. These allow the use of orifices at the inlet of the fuel boxes so that the one-phase pressure drop will predominate over the two-phase pressure drop. This reduces the risk of hydrodynamic oscillations. However, if suitable methods are found to facilitate natural circulation even the circulation pumps can be left out.

The use of the HP-BWR means improved Carnot cycle thermal efficiency up to about ~40% instead of about ~30%. The reason is that the HP-BWR steam temperature corresponds to 15MPa while the traditional BWR’s steam temperature corresponds to 7MPa and the traditional PWR’s steam temperature corresponds to 6MPa. The HP-BWR is lenient to the environment as less damaging cooling water is released per produced kWh to the recipient, sea or river or to the air via a cooling tower.

Using direct cycle the system is simplified. Still, the usual PWR steam lines can be used through the containment wall to the turbine. A great advantage is that the complicated and costly steam generators are left out.

The moisture separators and the steam dryers are outside the reactor vessel in the containment instead of the huge troublesome steam generators.

Simple dry containment is used instead of the complicated, inert, pressure suppression wet containment which requires a great deal of surveillance.

3. The Traditional Boiling Water Reactor, BWR

The basic principles of the traditional Boiling Water reactor are well known

Traditional BWR

As there are pipe connections to the reactor vessel below the reactor core, a pipe break can empty the vessel leaving the core uncovered, without the cooling water. Therefore, a core spray is required. This is a common feature for the BWRs with external circulation pumps or jet pumps. However, this draw back is eliminated at a later design stage with the Advanced Boiling Water Reactor, ABWR. All BWR control rods are inserted to the core using hydraulic power; some with electric motors too. This makes the lower part of the rector both inside and outside the bottom of the reactor vessel extremely elaborate. To make things worse, in the past, cracks, corrosion and leakage occurred at the penetrations at the lower part of the reactor vessel.

Structural sketch of reactor pressure vessel


Traditional Advanced Boiling Water Reactor (Hitachi–ABWR)

The huge reactor vessel would require an enormous dry containment building. Therefore, a pressure suppression containment system is used instead. The containment is separated into two parts, the upper dry well and the lower wet well with the suppression pool. If the separation is not perfectly leak-tight the wet well cannot fulfil its function to suppress the pressure in the dry well in case of a pipe break. Further complication is that the traditional BWR containment operates inertly, making difficult the entrance into it.

The nice thing about the BWR is that it operates in direct cycle mode without the troublesome steam generators.

4. The Traditional Pressurized Water Reactor, PWR

Most of the world’s operating reactors are traditional PWRs.

Traditional BWR

Traditional BWR

The control rods are operated from above. Undoubtedly some leakages were observed at the penetrations which in a few cases led to the need to replace the reactor pressure vessel head.

Reactor Concept Manual - Pressurized Water Reactor Systems

Cutaway View of Reactor Vessel

The simple electromagnetic devices which manoeuvre the rods worked reliably. This assures a high degree of safety. A basically continuous, uninterrupted bottom of the reactor vessel avoids any suspicions of its integrity.

Cutaway View of Reactor Vessel

A four-loop Westighouse plant

A four-loop Westighouse plant has four steam generators, four reactor coolant pumps, and a pressurizer. The four-loop units in the United States are Braidwood 1 and 2, Byron 1 and 2, Callaway, Catawba 1 and 2, Comanche Peak 1 and 2, D.C. Cook 1 and 2, Diablo Canyon 1 and 2, Indian Point 2 and 3, McGuire 1 and 2, Millestone 3, Salem 1 and 2, Seabrook, Sequoyah 1 and 2, South Texas Project 1 and 2, Vogtle 1 and 2, Watts Bar 1, and Wolf Creek. Each of these plants has 193 fuel assemblies arranged inside a reactor vessel that has an internal diameter of 173 inches (except South Texas has an internal diameter of 167 inches). The fuel assemblies are arranged in 17 x 17 array except for Cook and Indian Point, which have 15 x 15 fuel. The electrical output of these plants ranges from 950 to 1250 megawatts.

The curse of the traditional PWRs is their steam generators. These complicated and costly huge pieces of equipment are disappointingly short lived because of the corrosion of the internal tubes, which can cause leaks. The plant owners used to change them after some fifteen years. An extremely expensive and troublesome and also time consuming operation.

Steam dryer in a SG

In the upper part of the steam generators there is the moisture separator and the steam dryer. The HP-BWR is “borrowing” this equipment which can be used without the troublesome steam generators.

5. References

All university text books written for nuclear engineering students contain detailed descriptions of both Boiling Water Reactors and Pressurized Water Reactors. Also manufacturers in Europe, Asia and America publish data about their designs. There is also a wealth of information about BWRs and PWRs on the internet.

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