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Title: Seismic probabilistic safety assessment and risk control of nuclear power plants in Northwest Europe
Author: Medel Vera, Carlos Pablo
ISNI:       0000 0004 5919 5869
Awarding Body: University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 2016
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Nuclear power plays a crucial role in energy supply in the world: around 15% of the electricity generated worldwide is provided from nuclear stations avoiding around 2.5 billion tonnes of CO2 emissions. As of January 2016, 442 reactors that generated 380+ GW were in operation and 66 new reactors were under construction. The seismic design of new nuclear power plants (NPPs) has gained much interest after the high-profile Fukushima Dai-ichi accident. In the UK, a tectonically stable continental region that possesses medium-to-low seismic activity, strong earthquakes capable of jeopardising the structural integrity of NPPs, although infrequent, can still occur. Despite that no NPP has been built in Great Britain after 1995, a New Build Programme intended to build 16 GW of new nuclear capacity by 2030 is currently under way. This PhD project provides a state-of-the-art framework for seismic probabilistic safety assessment and risk control of NPPs in Northwest Europe with particular application to the British Isles. It includes three progressive levels: (i) seismic input, (ii) seismic risk analysis, and (iii) seismic risk control. For seismic input, a suitable model to rationally define inputs in the context of risk assessments is proposed. Such a model is based on the stochastic simulation of accelerograms that are compatible with seismic scenarios defined by magnitude 4 < Mw < 6.5, epicentral distance 10 km < Repi < 100 km, and different types of soil (rock, stiff soil and soft soil). It was found to be a rational approach that streamlines the simulation of accelerograms to conduct nonlinear dynamic analyses for safety assessments. The model is a function of a few variables customarily known in structural engineering projects. In terms of PGA, PGV and spectral accelerations, the simulated accelerograms were validated by GMPEs calibrated for the UK, Europe and the Middle East, and other stable continental regions. For seismic risk analysis, a straightforward and logical approach to probabilistically assess the risk of NPPs based on the stochastic simulation of accelerograms is studied. It effectively simplifies traditional approaches: for seismic inputs, it avoids the use of selecting/scaling procedures and GMPEs; for structural outputs, it does not use Monte Carlo algorithms to simulate the damage state. However, it demands more expensive computational resources as a large number of nonlinear dynamic analyses are needed. For seismic risk control, strategies to control the risk using seismic protection systems are analysed. This is based on recent experience reported elsewhere of seismically protected nuclear reactor buildings in other areas of medium-to-low seismic activity. Finally, a scenario-based incremental dynamic analysis (IDA) is proposed aimed at the generation of surfaces for unacceptable performance of NPPs as function of earthquake magnitude and distance. It was found that viscous-based devices are more efficient than hysteretic-based devices in controlling the seismic risk of NPPs in the UK. Finally, using the proposed scenario-based IDA, it was found that when considering all controlling scenarios for a representative UK nuclear site, the risk is significantly reduced ranging from 3 to 5 orders of magnitude when using viscous-based devices.
Supervisor: Ji, Tianjian Sponsor: CONICYT, Chile
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: nuclear power plant ; probabilistic safety assessment ; seismic risk analysis ; accelerograms ; synthetic records ; earthquake ground motions ; seismic protection technology ; seismic isolation ; energy dissipation ; incremental dynamic analysis ; Northwest Europe ; United Kingdom