New research: Modelling AGR core behaviour in seismic conditions

A new research paper presents a unique, highly innovative and technically challenging earthquake engineering project that has provided vital evidence to underpin the seismic safety assessments of the Advanced Gas-cooled Reactors.

This is an output based on the long-standing collaborative research project between the University of Bristol, EDF and Atkins on plant-life extension of AGR nuclear power plants. These AGRs are unique to the UK and were designed and built in the 1970s and 1980s. Their nuclear core is made up of thousands of interlocking graphite bricks and as these reactors age, fine cracks occur in the bricks. With only one new build power station underway, at Hinkley Point C in Somerset, the current fleet of AGRs need to continue to operate and generate low-carbon power.

The 1/4 size AGR model tested at the University of Bristol

To fulfil safety case requirements to allow plant life extension,  EDF must be able to prove that under extreme conditions such as a severe seismic event, these cracks would not cause the bricks to move in a way that would prevent the reactor from safely shutting down. The work at the University of Bristol in collaboration with EDF and Atkins has developed a quarter scale model of an AGR reactor core that has been tested on a state-of-the-art shaking table.  This involves a 42,000‐component rig with approximately 3,200 transducers and a novel distributed data acquisition system that yielded approximately 20 TB of data in approximately 4,800 seismic tests.

This new research paper summarises the experimental and numerical modelling approaches that have been developed to investigate the seismic behaviour of an aged graphite core.

Research Paper available Open Access

The full paper is available Open Access and can be accessed via the link below.

Full citation: Dihoru, L., Cannell, B., Oddbjornsson, O., Crewe , A. J., Horseman, T., Dietz, M., & Taylor, C. A. (2020). EXPERIMENTAL AND COMPUTATIONAL SYNERGY FOR MODELLING AN ADVANCED GAS-COOLED REACTOR CORE UNDER SEISMIC EXCITATION. Earthquake Engineering and Structural Dynamics, 1-20.

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