Seminar explores hydrogen hazards in nuclear decommissioning and waste management
21 November 2016
London South Bank University's (LSBU) School of Engineering has this month hosted a successful seminar on nuclear energy. The seminar explored what happens in the nuclear plant lifecycle, and how the associated hydrogen hazards in nuclear decommissioning and waste management are managed.
Organised by Dr Claire Benson from the University’s Explosions and Fire Research Group, visitors attended from a wide variety of nuclear organisations, including national and international Nuclear Decommissioning Authority sites and academic institutions.
The seminar explored a range of subjects highlighting the vital role of academia in industrial safety and, in particular, on the decommissioning of Sellafield and the processes and hydrogen hazards at the site. A key point of interest was a profile of the enormous body of research undertaken at LSBU to inform the complex safety cases being applied. The variation in safety limits across and within different nuclear industry sites was also examined, along with an appreciation of how Sellafield is starting to intelligently apply different risk tolerance.
Keynote speaker Peter Donnelly, principle investigator of nuclear safety for the Office for Nuclear Regulation, discussed 'Hydrogen and its regulation in the nuclear industry', making an emphatic case for safety cases to be proportionate to the risk and hazard outcomes. He also stressed how decisions, and the underlying assumptions for those decisions, must be clearly displayed to demonstrate that hazards have been intelligently assessed, understood, and dealt with "so far as is reasonable practicable" in line with legislation.
The day continued with a fascinating insight into the use of FLACS (the industry standard software for explosion modelling) to model hydrogen flow, and the behaviour and repercussions of hydrogen explosions in areas with complex geometry. Further presentations explored work concerning the collection and dispersion of hydrogen from compacted drums of irradiated magnesium held inside a larger container, and the solution to prevent flammable atmospheres from forming.
A closing lecture by Dr Paul Holborn, leader of the LSBU Explosions and Fire research Group, on the 'Mitigation of hydrogen explosions' explored the various ways to reduce the hazard of hydrogen, primarily through the use of mixtures of nitrogen, water fog and sodium hydroxide additives.
Feedback on the seminar was extremely positive and the School of Engineering is hoping to make the event an annual feature.