Friday, April 24, 2009

Blastout during scram with leaking oxide fuel at high power density

So it does not happen often, but it has happened. At a recent meeting of the NRC's ACRS, one member wondered if a rapid shutdown could induce a PCI failure and the expert replied that, "We've never seen that."

Of course, the expert is likely correct that a PCI cladding opening has never been induced by a reactor scram. However, a reactor scram has induced severe additional failure of defected fuel that was operating at high power density. The readers who have the patience may scroll down to my entry of June 13, 2008, in which I detail events at GETR on July 12, 1959, along with hot cell photographs of blasted fuel.

Here are a few sentences from the recent meeting of the ACRS subcommittee:

+ + + + +
MARCH 3, 2009
+ + + + +

MEMBER RAY: Is there -- everything you talked about, Sam, had to do with raising power, ramp rate, increasing power. I just kept thinking to myself is there symmetrical problem on the downside with a unit trip or something like that in terms of stress levels?

CHAIR ARMIJO: No. Actually, I have never known a fuel rod to fail when you reduce power. You reduce power as a result of failure, that's typical. Actually it unloads. Everything unloads. As you drop power the pellets contract thermally so the stresses, whatever stresses are there and there is just no -- this is stress corrosion cracking mechanism. Unless there is a mechanism to put stress on the cladding, it just won't happen.

MEMBER RAY: Well, that's what I was thinking about. Is there a mechanism on a down-power, rapid down-power that has the same affect?

CHAIR ARMIJO: We've never seen that.

Well, during summer 1959, GETR had a wild time with blastout of a leaking oxide fuel element that had center melting. On July 20, 1962, a recurrence was avoided by by complying with the following Leyse procedure. I addressed this note to Kornblith with a copy to Thorburn. Thorburn sent it to O’Rourke who sent it to Akin who returned it to O’Rourke with this note. The copy came back to me and I filed it.

This procedure made life a lot easier at GETR on July 20, 1962, when test fuel operating at very high power density developed a leak. When the fuel was removed from the PWL, a large blasted zone was not present, although the some fission products were released during removal of the fuel.

As usual, the regulators (then the AEC) did not appreciate initiative from the GETR staff as they followed this guidance. An inspector asked, “Are the operators afraid to scram this reactor?” Click on each slide to enlarge and use the return arrow to get back here.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

My email to Chairman NRC - The TRACE Mess

TO: Chairman NRC:
I am amazed that the NRC refuses to provide its public with the documents that I requested under FOIA/PA 2009-0067. I was sent very heavily sanitized reports by each of the four consultants and that is unsatisfactory. The TRACE game has been going on for over 30 years and the NRC now claims that, “Disclosure of predecisional information would tend to inhibit the open and frank exchange of ideas essential to the deliberative process.” This is highly absurd. What the NRC is inhibiting is the open and frank exchange of ideas with its public; an open and frank exchange that is essential to public understanding, participation and acceptance of nuclear power and other NRC regulated activities.

The American public has the right to expect accurate claims when the NRC labels the readiness of TRACE. NRC labeled TRACE as follows at ACRS on September 4, 2008:


I doubt that TRACE is now ready to be fully incorporated into the NRC’s regulatory framework. In addressing my doubts, I would value the complete set of the reviewers’ reports that I requested under FOIA/PA 2009-0067.

For some time I’ve been thinking about River Bend’s performance during cycles 8 and 11. The following should not be outside of NRC’s regulatory framework and it would be a great challenge for TRACE.

The design basis for the emergency core cooling system ("ECCS") at River Bend-for clean cladding, without heavy crud and oxide layers-is described in Chapter 6.3 of the RBS USAR. It states that at the onset of a LOCA, the cladding surface temperature would be in the range of 578"F, and that the PCT would be 1580°F. However, with heavy crud and oxide layers on the cladding (the conditions of cycles 8 and 11) the ECCS design basis for River Bend is substantially non-conservative. With the heavy fouling of the fuel elements at River Bend Cycles 8 and 11, the following would have characterized a LOCA in contrast to the design basis for the emergency core cooling system.

1. Reduced coolant flow at the heavily fouled fuel prior to and during the LOCA.
2. Reduced coolant inventory in the vicinity of the heavily fouled fuel at the start of LOCA.
3. Massive oxidation of the heavily fouled fuel at the start of LOCA.
4. Extensive absorption of hydrogen and oxygen in the heavily fouled fuel at the start of LOCA.
5. Higher starting temperature of the heavily fouled fuel at the start of LOCA. {The cladding surface temperature at some locations at River Bend Cycle 8 has been reported to have reached temperatures approaching 1200°F1}.
6. Substantially greater stored energy of that fuel at the start of LOCA.

The above factors mean that:

The duration of the LOCA is substantially increased. The peak temperature is substantially increased. The time to reach peak temperature is substantially increased. The time to quench is substantially increased; indeed the NRC’s assumed quench process will not apply at the agglomeration consisting of the degraded fuel and the thick fouling. The fuel element damage is substantially increased, normal cooling paths are blocked, subsequent cooling of the fuel element is relatively ineffective and further damage of the fuel proceeds during the so-called long term cooling.

1NRC, "River Bend Station - NRC Problem Identification and Resolution Inspection Report 050045812005008," 02/28/06, Report Details, p. 10, located at:, Electronic Reading Room, ADAMS Documents, Accession Number: ML060600503.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

FOIA Games at NRC

FOlA Resource
uid no body []
Wednesday, March 1 1, 2009 8: 11 PM
FOlA Resource
WWW Form Submission

Below is the result of your feedback form. It was submitted
on Wednesday, March 1 1, 2009 at 20: 1 1 :22

FirstName: Robert
LastName: leyse

Desc: Slide 11 of 16, page 424 of 429 in the transcript, was presented to ACRS on September 4, 2008.
Now I am focusing on the third line from the bottom of slide 11 which is:
Model for nucleate boiling is overly complex and ad hoc

So, I want:
1. The model for nucleate boiling
2. The identification of the consultant who observed that the model is overly complex, etc.
3. The related remarks of that consultant.

Via FOIAIPA 2009-006# I have received the report of each of the four consultants. However, under Exemption 5, one of your Directors (Sheron)deleted just about everything.

The NRC response to my request is that there are records that are already publicly available. This is bunk. The NRC did not send any of the three items that I requested

Re: FOIA/PA-2009-0110
1. 6/18/2008
Draft-Trace V5.0 Theory Manual - Volume
1: Field Equations, Solution Methods, and
Physical Models.

Wall Heat Transfer Models

This chapter describes the TRACE wall heat transfer package. We have grouped the models that are presented into five separate sections:

•Pre-CHF Heat Transfer: models for wall-liquid convection, nucleate boiling, and
subcooled boiling.

•Critical Heat Flux: models for the peak heat flux in the nucleate boiling heat transferregime and the wall temperature at which it occurs.

•Minimum Film Boiling Temperature: the temperature above which wall-liquid contact
does not occur.

•Post-CHF Heat Transfer: models for transition and film boiling heat transfer.

•Condensation Heat Transfer: models for film condensation and the non-condensable gas

Thursday, April 2, 2009

The Cartel of University Administrators -- An Undue Concentration of Research and Education(in preparation)

March 23, 2009, 6:09 pm — Updated: 9:38 pm -->
Obama and Energy Chief Push Innovation

The great thing about Bell Labs, he said, was its reliance on nurturing young talent. “Bell Labs did not hire established scientists,” Dr. Chu said. “They grew their own.”
Now, he said, the country’s challenge is to grow a generation of energy innovators, a challenge made harder because innovation has never been much of a priority within the energy industry.

How Professors Think
Inside the Curious World of Academic Judgment

Michèle Lamont
2. Opening the Black Box of Peer Review
3. How Panels Work
4. On Disciplinary Cultures
5. Pragmatic Fairness: Customary Rules of Deliberation
6. Recognizing Various Kinds of Excellence
7. Considering Interdisciplinarity and Diversity
8. Implications in the United States and Abroad
Appendix: Methods and Data Analysis

Excellence. Originality. Intelligence. Everyone in academia stresses quality. But what exactly is it, and how do professors identify it?

In the academic evaluation system known as “peer review,” highly respected professors pass judgment, usually confidentially, on the work of others. But only those present in the deliberative chambers know exactly what is said. Michèle Lamont observed deliberations for fellowships and research grants, and interviewed panel members at length. In How Professors Think, she reveals what she discovered about this secretive, powerful, peculiar world.

Leyse Remarks to Congressman Mike Simpson

Robert H. Leyse
222 Elkhorn Road
Sun Valley, ID 83353

February 14, 2009

Congressman Mike Simpson
U. S. House of Representatives
1339 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Mike:

Congratulations on your vote against Obama’s bail out bill.

Today I’ve read my February 13, 2009, Wall Street Journal and I note that, “The National Science Foundation will receive $3 billion for research funding.” That $3 billion is a big boost to the $7 billion that NSF already receives. Of course, it is only a speck inside of the nearly trillion dollar package. Nevertheless, it is tragic that the NSF cartel of university administrators gets this additional handout.

Section 3(e) of the National Science Foundation (NSF) Act of 1950, as amended, states that: " shall be an objective of the Foundation to strengthen research and education in the sciences and engineering, including independent research by individuals, throughout the United States, and to avoid undue concentration of such research and education."

In reality, NSF avoids funding “independent research by individuals.” In fact, NSF resents such applications for funding. It is a fact that the cartel of university officials has a preferred and somewhat closed access to NSF funding.

We need legislation to partially reform NSF. Right now, when an investigator submits a proposal to NSF, the investigator’s background is revealed to the evaluators of the proposal. The identification of the evaluators is never revealed to the investigator. This must be changed. The investigator’s background should never be revealed to the evaluators of the proposal. The identification of the evaluators should be disclosed to the investigator when an award, or the refusal of an award, is announced. Right now, the evaluators discriminate against investigators from outside of the academic world. Evaluators should be forced to evaluate a proposal based on its merits and not on the academic connections of the investigator. American innovators need a fair deal.

Thank you for your attention to this. I’ll write more next week.

Robert H. Leyse

Leyse Remarks to Bement, head of NSF

Robert H. Leyse
P. O. Box 2850
Sun Valley, ID 83353

January 26, 2009

Dr. Arden L. Bement, Director
National Science Foundation
4201 Wilson Boulevard
Arlington, Virginia 22230

Dear Dr. Bement:

Substantial Reform of NSF Proposal Review Process

The NSF proposal review process must be substantially reformed. Currently, NSF assigns four reviewers to each proposal. Four reviews are written and consolidated into one consensus review. The identification and qualifications of the applicant are disclosed to the reviewers. However, the identifications and qualifications of the reviewers are never disclosed to the applicant. Essentially this is a caste system.

A better system would be as follows: The identification of the applicant and the applicant’s organization would not be disclosed to the reviewers. This would force the reviewers to focus on the technical merits of the proposal without being influenced by relatively unrelated factors. The identification of the reviewers would be disclosed to the applicant when the reviews are presented to the applicant. Also, reviewers would have no access to the financial aspects of the proposal.

Of course, the Program Director would have complete access to all data related to the proposal. He would use the technical review as the keystone factor, but not the only factor, in selecting a proposal for NSF funding.

Dr. Bement, reform of the present caste setup is long overdue. In a nutshell, the identification and qualifications of the applicant should not be disclosed to the reviewers. Only the Program Director should have access to the entire proposal. The identifications and qualifications of the reviewers should not be perpetually hidden from the applicant. Please let me know whom I may contact within NSF so that I may track the status of these necessary reforms.

Robert H. Leyse

Copy to:

Congressman Mike Simpson
District Office
Boise, Idaho

Bement's Response to Leyse (Received April 2, composed March 19)

Ensure that the discovery-innovation institutes lead to transformative change.