SARNET - Severe Accident Research NETwork of Excellence
A network of excellence federating European research on severe accidents in nuclear power plants
Despite the accident prevention and management measures adopted in nuclear power plants, a very low probability remains that some accident scenarios maydevelop into a severe accident with core melting, plant damage and subsequent dispersal of radioactive materials into the environment. The severe accident at Fukushima has strongly underlined the necessity of ongoing efforts to prevent such accidents and contain their consequences.
The SARNET network has been set up under the aegis of the Framework Programmes (FP) of the European Commission on research. Two projects have been defined, both coordinated by IRSN (France), in the FP6 (2004-08) and FP7 (2009-13), with the following key objectives:
- Improving knowledge on severe accidents in order to reduce the uncertainties on the pending issues, thereby enhancing the plant safety
- Coordinating research resources and expertise available in Europe
- Preserving the research data and disseminating knowledge
The network members commit to contribute to a Joint Programme of Activities that can be broken into several elements:
- Ranking periodically the priorities of the research programmes, harmonizing and reorienting existing ones and jointly defining new ones when necessary. Six highest priority safety issues were identified: in-vessel core coolability, molten-core-concrete-interaction, fuel-coolant interaction, hydrogen mixing and combustion in containment, impact of oxidising conditions on source term, iodine chemistry
- Performing experiments on the abovementioned issues and jointly analysing their results in order to develop a common understanding of the concerned physical phenomena
- Developing and validating ASTEC, which capitalizes in terms of models the knowledge produced in the network; extending its applicability to BWR and CANDU NPP types
- Storing all the experimental results in the DATANET scientific database
- Developing educational courses and promoting personnel mobility between the various European organisations
Reference methods used for probabilistic safety assessments have been studied in the first phase of the network, in close relation with the above research. Work has continued in a separate european project ASAMPSA2.