PROBABILISTIC MODELS TO ESTIMATE FIRE-INDUCED CABLE DAMAGE AT NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS
Valbuena, Genebelin R
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Even though numerous PRAs have shown that fire can be a major contributor to nuclear power plant risk, there are some specific areas of knowledge related to this issue, such as the prediction of fire-induced damage to electrical cables and circuits, and their potential effects in the safety of the nuclear power plant, that still constitute a practical enigma, particularly for the lack of approaches/models to perform consistent and objective assessments. This report contains a discussion of three different models to estimate fire-induced cable damage likelihood given a specified fire profile: the kinetic, the heat transfer and the IR "K Factor" model. These models not only are based on statistical analysis of data available in the open literature, but to the greatest extent possible they use physics based principles to describe the underlying mechanism of failures that take place among the electrical cables upon heating due to external fires. The characterization of cable damage, and consequently the loss of functionality of electrical cables in fire is a complex phenomenon that depends on a variety of intrinsic factors such as cable materials and dimensions, and extrinsic factors such as electrical and mechanical loads on the cables, heat flux severity, and exposure time. Some of these factors are difficult to estimate even in a well-characterized fire, not only for the variability related to the unknown material composition and physical arrangements, but also for the lack of objective frameworks and theoretical models to study the behavior of polymeric wire cable insulation under dynamic external thermal insults. The results of this research will 1) help to develop a consistent framework to predict fire-induced cable failure modes likelihood, and 2) develop some guidance to evaluate and/or reduce the risk associated with these failure modes in existing and new power plant facilities. Among the models evaluated, the physics-based heat transfer model takes into account the properties and characteristics of the cables and cable materials, and the characteristics of the thermal insult. This model can be used to estimate the probability of cable damage under different thermal conditions.