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Simulation of Ground Freezing around the Perimeter of the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant for the Prevention of Radionuclide Diffusion via Groundwater

Following the accident at the Fukushima nuclear power plant, high concentrations of radiation seepage into the ocean through radionuclide transfer via groundwater has been observed. In order to prevent further radionuclide permeation into the groundwater, it was decided to delimit the area around the turbines and reactors with an ice wall several meters deep. This purpose of the wall is to restrict the influx of the groundwater into the radioactive zone, as well as the escape of groundwater from the same zone, inevitably contaminated with radionuclides. To this end, vertical cooling devices shall be situated around the perimeter of the nuclear power plant, as demonstrated in the figure below.

 

Plan of vertical cooling device arrangement around the perimeter of the Fukushima nuclear power plant

Plan of cooling device arrangement around the perimeter of the Fukushima power plant

 

Geological investigations of the area made it possible to determine the physicochemical properties of the ground and the speed of the groundwater displacement (see the section below).

 

Plan of geological section of the ground near the Fukushima NPP

Geological section of the ground near the Fukushima

 

Water-proof rock layer is marked green.

Landfill, where the movement of groundwater takes place, is marked yellow.

R/B and T/B are reactor and turbine buildings respectively.

Water flows are marked by blue arrows.

 

Computer simulation of the artificial ground freezing in the specified area with the Frost 3D Universal specialized software can be employed to test the proposed design solutions and confirm or reject their viability on the basis of the derived data.

 

For computer simulation on the basis of the geometric dimensions of the considered domain and geological and lithological structure of the grounds, the following dimensions for the computational domain were introduced: length – 450m, width – 210m, height – 30m.

 

The geological and lithological structure of the ground in the considered domain was reproduced on the basis of the information obtained from the engineering and geological boreholes.

 

When creating the 3D geometric model, the foundations and footings of the reactors and turbines were taken into account.

 

The footings of the reactors and turbines are found at a depth of approximately 10 m and their temperature is assumed to correspond to the temperature inside the building for thermotechnical computation purposes.

 

The layout of reactor and turbine foundations and footings in the Frost 3D Universal software

The layout of reactor and turbine foundations and footings in the Frost 3D Universal software environment

 

According to the preliminary estimates, about 30 km of vertical freezing pipes, each being 30 m in length, is necessary for the ground freezing requirements of this project. With a distance of 1 m between each pipe; a total of 1,073 freezing pipes will need to be installed around the perimeter of the nuclear power plant. To power the cooling, 14 refrigerating units with a capacity of 400 kW each are required.

 

A 3D geometric model of the Fukushima nuclear power plant was hence created in the Frost 3D Universal software environment on the basis of the geological and lithological structure of grounds, the arrangement of foundations and bases of the reactors, turbines and other constructions, as well as the arrangement of vertical freezing pipes (see the figures below).

 

3D model of the ground and cooling installations in Frost 3D Universal software by Simmakers

 

3D model of the infrastructure elements of the Fukushima NPP with Frost 3D Universal software

3D geometric model of the infrastructure elements of the Fukushima nuclear power plant with Frost 3D Universal

 

When conducting the thermotechnical computation, the following thermophysical properties of grounds were applied:

 

Table 1 – Thermophysical properties of the terrain around the Fukushima nuclear power plant

 

Heat conductivity of ground in thawed state
[Wtm*K]

Heat conductivity of ground in frozen state
[Wtm*K]

Heat capacity of ground in thawed state
[MJ/m3*К]

Heat capacity of ground in frozen state
[MJ/m3*К]

Landfill

2.20

3.40

2.78

2.03

Rock

2.00

2.16

2.40

1.95

 

Geological survey data demonstrates that filtration in the landfill layer is about 0.1 m/day, while filtration in the rock layer is somewhat lower.

 

The change of temperature over time was specified on the surface of the computational domain. Here we used the average maximum temperature to simulate the worst possible climatic scenario for ground freezing.

 

Diagram of temperature dependence on time in Frost 3D Universal software

Specification of temperature dependence on time in Frost 3D Universal

 

A zero heat flux was specified on the lower and side boundaries of the computational domain. The boundaries of the simulation area are situated far enough from the area of interest so as not to interfere with the computation of heat processes for the considered period of time.

 

In simulating the thermal fields, the 3D geometry of the modeled area was discretized with a hexahedral mesh containing 17,828,087 nodes.

 

Computational mesh created with Frost 3D Universal

Hexahedral computational mesh created with Frost 3D Universal

 

The simulation period consisted of 2 years, starting from 01.09.2014.

 

The time taken by the FROST 3D Universal software to perform the entire computation was 3 hours on a PC with an Intel Core i7 3770 CPU running at 3.4 GHz and with 16 GB RAM.

 

Below are the results of the simulation of the temperature distribution in the considered area for various moments in time.

 

Simulated results of temperature distribution after 3 months of cooling device operation

01.12.2014 – Temperature distribution after 3 months of cooling device operation

 

Simulated results of temperature distribution after 2 years of cooling device operation

01.09.2016 – Temperature distribution after 2 years of cooling device operation

 

For a more detailed visualization of the simulation results, we considered the temperature distribution in a restricted section of the simulated area, marked by a red rectangle in the figure below.

 

Part of the area of the computational domain for further analysis of thermal fields and unfrozen water distribution

Area of the computational domain (in red) for further analysis of thermal fields and unfrozen water distribution

 

Temperature distribution in the selected area after 1 day of cooling device operation

02.09.2014 – Temperature distribution after 1 day of cooling device operation

 

Temperature distribution in the selected area after 2 months of cooling device operation

10.12.2014 – Temperature distribution after 2 months of cooling device operation

 
 

Visualization of temperature distribution in the XZ plane as of October 1, 2014

Visualization of temperature distribution in the XZ plane as of December 10, 2014

Temperature distribution in the XZ plane as of 01.10.2014

Temperature distribution in the XZ plane as of 10.12.2014

 

Visualization of the distribution of the quantity of frozen water in the XZ plane as of December 10, 2014

Visualization of the distribution of the quantity of frozen water in the YZ plane as of December 10, 2014

Temperature distribution in the YZ plane as of 01.10.2014

Temperature distribution in the YZ plane as of 10.12.2014

 

The freezing front is more clearly visible when considering the distribution of the quantity of frozen water in the ground pores.

 
 

Visualization of the distribution of the quantity of frozen water in the XZ plane as of December 10, 2014

Visualization of the distribution of the quantity of frozen water in the YZ plane as of December 10, 2014

Distribution of the quantity of frozen water in the XZ plane as of 10.12.2014; unfrozen moisture is marked blue.

Distribution of the quantity of frozen water in the YZ plane as of 10.12.2014; unfrozen moisture is marked blue.

 

The distribution of the quantity of frozen water in the sections after half a year demonstrates complete ground freezing in the vicinity of the cooling devices.

 

Beyond this time, further operation of the cooling devices in maximum power mode is no longer necessary, and the cooling elements can be switched to temperature maintenance mode.

 

Moreover, the distributions shown below of the quantity of frozen water after half a year of operation demonstrate that further cooling will not significantly influence the growth of the freezing front:

 

Visualization of temperature distribution after 2 years of cooling device operation as of August 31, 2016

31.08.2016 – Temperature distribution after 2 years of cooling device operation

 

In conclusion, modern computer technologies render forecasting of temperature distributions and the quantity of unfrozen moisture around the Fukushima nuclear power plant feasible. This provides a crucial opportunity to verify the adequacy of the design solutions for the construction of an ice wall around the perimeter of the Fukushima nuclear power plant.

 

 

FROST 3D UNIVERSAL

Software package for computation of ground freezing:

 

  • During the construction of dams, hydroelectric power plants, pumping stations, sludge depositories
  • For the prevention of the negative impact of water

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From the outset, the team of specialists at Simmakers Ltd showed a high degree of professionalism by carrying out detailed preliminary research of the problem before concluding the contract; we were very impressed with this approach.

D.G. Dolgikh
Deputy CEO
Fundamentstroyarkos RPA Ltd, Russia

 

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