(19)
(11)EP 3 152 766 B1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT SPECIFICATION

(45)Mention of the grant of the patent:
12.02.2020 Bulletin 2020/07

(21)Application number: 15802684.9

(22)Date of filing:  27.03.2015
(51)Int. Cl.: 
G21C 3/326  (2006.01)
G21C 7/117  (2006.01)
G21C 7/08  (2006.01)
(86)International application number:
PCT/US2015/022967
(87)International publication number:
WO 2015/187236 (10.12.2015 Gazette  2015/49)

(54)

CONTROL ROD GUIDE TUBE WITH AN EXTENDED INTERMEDIATE GUIDE ASSEMBLY

STEUERSTABFÜHRUNGSROHR MIT ERWEITERTER ZWISCHENFÜHRUNGSANORDNUNG

TUBE DE GUIDAGE DE BARRE DE COMMANDE AVEC ENSEMBLE DE GUIDAGE INTERMÉDIAIRE ÉTENDU


(84)Designated Contracting States:
AL AT BE BG CH CY CZ DE DK EE ES FI FR GB GR HR HU IE IS IT LI LT LU LV MC MK MT NL NO PL PT RO RS SE SI SK SM TR

(30)Priority: 04.06.2014 US 201414295521

(43)Date of publication of application:
12.04.2017 Bulletin 2017/15

(73)Proprietor: Westinghouse Electric Company LLC
Cranberry Township, PA 16066 (US)

(72)Inventors:
  • MICKUS, Vytautas J.
    Mars, Pennsylvania 16046 (US)
  • EZZI, Ibrahim M.
    Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15237 (US)

(74)Representative: Gallo, Wolfgang 
Fleuchaus & Gallo Partnerschaft mbB Patent- und Rechtsanwälte Buchenweg 17
86573 Obergriesbach
86573 Obergriesbach (DE)


(56)References cited: : 
FR-A1- 2 630 854
JP-A- 2013 024 758
US-A- 5 053 189
JP-A- 2007 171 157
US-A- 3 915 793
US-A1- 2012 099 691
  
      
    Note: Within nine months from the publication of the mention of the grant of the European patent, any person may give notice to the European Patent Office of opposition to the European patent granted. Notice of opposition shall be filed in a written reasoned statement. It shall not be deemed to have been filed until the opposition fee has been paid. (Art. 99(1) European Patent Convention).


    Description

    BACKGROUND


    1. Field



    [0001] This invention relates generally to nuclear reactors, and more particularly, to nuclear reactors that employ top mounted control rods.

    2. Related Art



    [0002] The primary side of nuclear power generating systems which are cooled with water under pressure comprises a closed circuit which is isolated and in heat exchange relationship with a secondary side for the production of useful energy. The primary side comprises the reactor vessel enclosing a core internal structure that supports a plurality of fuel assemblies containing fissile material, the primary circuit within heat exchange steam generators, the inner volume of a pressurizer, pumps and pipes, for circulating pressurized water; the pipes connecting each of the steam generators and pumps to the reactor vessel independently. Each of the parts of the primary side comprising a steam generator, a pump and the system of pipes which are connected to the vessel form a loop of the primary side.

    [0003] For the purpose of illustration, Figure 1 shows a simplified nuclear reactor primary system, including a generally cylindrical reactor pressure vessel 10 having a closure head 12 enclosing a nuclear core 14. A liquid reactor coolant, such as water, is pumped into the vessel 10 by pump 16, through the core 14 where heat energy is absorbed and is discharged to a heat exchanger 18, typically referred to as a steam generator, in which heat is transferred to a utilization circuit (not shown), such as a steam driven turbine generator. The reactor coolant is then returned to the pump 16, completing the primary loop. Typically, a plurality of the above-described loops are connected to a single reactor vessel 10 by reactor coolant piping 20.

    [0004] An exemplary reactor design is shown in more detail in Figure 2. In addition to the core 14 comprised of a plurality of parallel, vertical, co-extending fuel assemblies 22, for purposes of this description, the other vessel internal structures can be divided into the lower internals 24 and the upper internals 26. In conventional designs, the lower internals' function is to support, align and guide core components and instrumentation as well as direct flow within the vessel. The upper internals restrain or provide a secondary restraint for the fuel assemblies 22 (only two of which are shown for simplicity in Figure 2), and support and guide instrumentation and components, such as control rods 28. In the exemplary reactor shown in Figure 2, coolant enters the reactor vessel 10 through one or more inlet nozzles 30, flows down through an annulus between the reactor vessel and the core barrel 32, is turned 180° in the lower plenum 34, passes upwardly through a lower support plate 37 and a lower core plate 36 upon which the fuel assemblies 22 are seated and through and about the assemblies. In some designs, the lower support plate 37 and the lower core plate 36 are replaced by a single structure, the lower core support plate, at the same elevation as 37. The coolant flow through the core and surrounding area 38 in typically large, on the order of 400,000 gallons (1 gallon = 3.8 litres) per minute at a velocity of approximately 20 feet (1 foot = 0.3 metres) per second. The resulting pressure drop and frictional forces tend to cause the fuel assemblies to rise, which movement is restrained by the upper internals, including a circular upper core plate 40. Coolant exiting the core 14 flows along the underside of the upper core plate and upwardly through a plurality of perforations 42. The coolant then flows upwardly and radially to one or more outlet nozzles 44.

    [0005] The upper internals 26 can be supported from the vessel 10 or the vessel head 12 and include an upper support assembly 46. Loads are transmitted between the upper support assembly 46 and the upper core plate 40, primarily by a plurality of support columns 48. A support column is aligned above a selected fuel assembly 22 and perforations 42 in the upper core plate 40.

    [0006] As will be explained in more detail hereafter, the reactor internals also include rectilinearly moveable control rods 28 for controlling the nuclear reaction within the core. The control rod assemblies, commonly known as rod cluster control mechanisms, typically include a drive shaft 50 and a spider assembly 52 of neutron poison rods that are guided through the upper internals 26 and into aligned fuel assemblies 22 by control rod guide tubes 54. The guide tubes are fixedly joined to the upper support assembly 46 and are connected by a split pin 56 force fit into the top of the upper core plate 40. The pin configuration provides for ease of guide tube assembly and replacement if ever necessary and assures that the core loads, particularly under seismic or other high loading accident conditions are taken primarily by the support columns 48 and not the guide tubes 54. This support arrangement assists in retarding guide tube deformation under accident conditions which could detrimentally affect control rod insertion capability.

    [0007] Figure 3 is an elevational view, represented in vertically shortened form, of a fuel assembly being generally designated by reference character 22. The fuel assembly 22 is the type used in a pressurized water reactor and has a structural skeleton which, at its lower end includes a bottom nozzle 58. The bottom nozzle 58 supports the fuel assembly 22 on the lower core plate 36 in the core region of the nuclear reactor. In addition to the bottom nozzle 58, the structural skeleton of the fuel assembly 22 also includes a top nozzle 62 at its upper end and a number of guide tubes or thimbles 54, which extend longitudinally between the bottom and top nozzles 58 and 62 and at opposite ends are rigidly attached thereto.

    [0008] The fuel assembly 22 further includes a plurality of transverse grids 64 axially spaced along and mounted to the guide thimbles 54 (also referred to as guide tubes) and an organized array of elongated fuel rods 66 transversely spaced and supported by the grids 64. Although it cannot be seen in Figure 3, the grids 64 are conventionally formed from orthogonal straps that are interleaved in an egg-crate pattern with the adjacent interface of four straps defining approximately square support cells through which the fuel rods 66 are supported in transversely spaced relationship with each other. In many conventional designs, springs and dimples are stamped into the opposing walls of the straps that form the support cells. The springs and dimples extends radially into the support cells and capture the fuel rods therebetween; exerting pressure on the fuel rod cladding to hold the rods in position. Also, the assembly 22 has an instrumentation tube 68 located in the center thereof that extends between and is mounted to the bottom and top nozzles 58 and 62. With such an arrangement of parts, fuel assembly 22 forms an integral unit capable of being conveniently handled without damaging the assembly of parts.

    [0009] To control the fission process, a number of control rods 28 are reciprocally movable in the guide thimbles 55 located at predetermined positions in the fuel assembly 22. Specifically, a rod cluster control mechanism 80 positioned above the top nozzle 62 supports the control rods 28. The control mechanism 80 has an internally threaded cylindrical hub member 82 with a plurality of radially extending flukes or arms 52. Each arm 52 is interconnected to one or more control rods 28 (the arrangement of the central hub and radially extending flukes is also referred to as a spider mechanism), such that the control rod mechanism 80 is operable to move the control rods vertically in the guide thimbles 55 to thereby control the fission process in the fuel assembly 22 under the motive power of control rod drive shafts 50 which are coupled to the control rod hubs 80, all in a well-known manner. In the withdrawn position, the control rods are guided up into the control rod guide tubes 55 above the upper core plate 40 and in the fully inserted position the control rods occupy substantially the entire length of the guide thimbles 54 within the fuel assemblies as shown in Figure 3. Alignment of the control rods through the upper internals 26 with the guide thimbles 55 in the fuel assemblies is maintained by guide cards 70 supported in a spaced tandem arrangement along the length of the control rod guide tubes 54.

    [0010] Figure 4 shows an enlarged view of the control rod assembly guide tube 54 shown between the upper support assembly 46 and the upper core plate 40 in Figure 2. The guide tube 54 is made up of two sections, a lower guide tube section 78 and an upper guide tube section 84. The lower guide tube section 78 has a generally square cross section while the upper guide tube section 84 has a generally rounded cross section. The lower guide tube section 78 is joined to the upper guide tube section 84 at an intermediate coupling 86. The upper and lower guide tube sections 84 and 78 have a plurality of guide cards 70 supported in tandem in spaced relationship to each other along the length of the guide tube 54 with a continuous guided section 88 extending up from the bottom of the guide tube 54 a distance approximately equal to the spacing between the guide cards 70.

    [0011] Figure 5 is representative of the pattern of the openings in the continuous guided section 88, the guide cards 70 and the guide plate at the intermediate coupling 86, through which the control rod assembly 80 passes as it travels through the upper internals 26. The three-quarter round openings 72 guide the individual control rods 28 with the flukes 52 passing through the straight portions 74 connecting the circular openings 72 to the central opening 76 through which the hub 82 passes. The guide card illustrated in Figure 5 is from the upper section 84 of the guide tube 54, but the pattern of the openings are representative of the opening pattern in the other guides as well; the difference being that the shape of the outer circumference changes from circular to generally square as one transitions from the upper section 84 to the lower section 78 of the guide tube 54.

    [0012] Aggressive guide card wear has been observed at some operating nuclear plants. When the special guide plate at the intermediate coupling 86 is located within the series of allowable worn guide cards 70, the guide plate can be replaced during an outage to extend the life of the guide tube, in lieu of replacing the lower guide tube assembly 78, if heavily worn. This mitigation technique reduces schedule, costs and radioactive waste generated while enabling continued safe plant operation, albeit for a limited portion of the remaining life of the plant.

    [0013] Accordingly, a more permanent fix for guide card wear is desired that can be achieved on a similar schedule to that required to replace the guide plate at the intermediate coupling 86.

    [0014] Additionally, such a repair is desired that would not require the generation of additional radioactive waste and is substantially comparable in cost to replacement of the guide plate.

    [0015] FR 2 630 854 A1 discloses a nuclear reactor having a control rod guide tube extending between an upper core plate and an upper support plate. The control rod guide tube comprises a lower guide tube section connected at its lower end to the upper core plate and terminating at its upper end at an intermediate coupling, and an upper guide tube section connected at its upper end to the upper support plate and terminating at its lower end at the intermediate coupling. A cylindrical insert coupling the lower and the upper guide tube section is supported at the intermediate coupling.

    SUMMARY



    [0016] These and other objects are achieved for a nuclear reactor having a pressure vessel housing a core of fissile material and an upper core plate substantially covering the core. The nuclear reactor has a control rod guide tube with an extended axial length, for guiding a control rod assembly into and out of the core, which extends between the upper core plate and an upper support assembly supported above the upper core plate. The control rod guide tube has a lower guide section connected at a first end to the upper core plate and terminating at a second end at an intermediate coupling. The control rod guide tube also has an upper guide tube section connected at a first end portion to the upper support assembly and terminating at a second end at the intermediate coupling. The improvement comprises an extended control rod guide assembly that is supported substantially at the intermediate coupling and extends axially, a finite distance into at least one of an interior of the lower guide tube section or the upper guide tube section.

    [0017] The control rod assembly comprises a plurality of control rods and, in at least one embodiment, at least some of the control rods are continuously guided over substantially an entire axial length of the control rod guide assembly. Preferably, some of the control rods are guided over discrete, spaced axial elevations along the axial length of the control rod guide assembly and, desirably, the control rods extending along the cardinal axis of the control rod guide assembly are continuously guided over substantially the entire axial length of the control rod guide assembly. In an additional embodiment all of the control rods are continuously guided over substantially an entire axial length of the control rod guide assembly.

    [0018] In one embodiment, the control rod guide assembly has a first axially extending segment and a second axially extending segment with the first segment extending into the lower guide tube section and the second segment extending into the upper guide tube section. Preferably, in this latter embodiment, the first segment terminates at an upper end in a first guide plate, the second segment terminates at a lower end in a second guide plate and the first and second guide plates are joined at the intermediate coupling. Preferably, the first and second guide plates have openings through which all of the control rods pass and the first and second guide plates have either an alignment hole or an alignment pin for aligning the openings in the first guide plate with the corresponding openings in the second guide plate. Desirably, the first guide plate and the second guide plate respectively have a peripheral radially extending flange with each flange extending into a radial recess on a radial interior of the intermediate coupling, which clamps the flanges together.

    [0019] In another embodiment, the control rod guide assembly extends approximately between 0.9 and 23 inches (2.3 and 58.4 cm). More preferably, the control rod guide assembly extends axially approximately between 0.9 and 7 inches (2.3 and 17.8 cm).

    BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS



    [0020] A further understanding of the invention can be gained from the following description of the preferred embodiments when read in conjunction with the accompanying drawings in which:

    Figure 1 is a simplified schematic of a nuclear reactor to which this invention may be applied;

    Figure 2 is an elevational view, partially in section, of a nuclear reactor vessel and internal components to which this invention may be applied;

    Figure 3 is an elevational view, partially in section, of a fuel assembly illustrated in vertically shortened form with parts broken away for clarity;

    Figure 4 is an enlarged isometric view of the control rod guide tube 54 illustrated in Figure 2;

    Figure 5 is a plan view of one of the guide cards in the upper guide tube 84 illustrated in Figure 4;

    Figure 6 is a perspective view of an extended control rod guide assembly which is inserted within the intermediate coupling in place of a worn guide plate, in accordance with one embodiment of this invention;

    Figure 7 is a perspective view of the upper segment of the extended control rod guide assembly shown in Figure 6;

    Figure 8 is a perspective view of the lower segment of the extended control rod guide assembly shown in Figure 6;

    Figure 9 is a cross sectional view of the upper internals guide tube 54 taken at the intermediate coupling location with the extended control rod guide assembly of one embodiment of this invention incorporated therein;

    Figure 10 is a perspective view of the extended control rod guide assembly of one embodiment of this invention installed in the lower guide tube 78;

    Figure 11 is a plan view of an upper section of a second embodiment of the control rod guide assembly of this invention;

    Figure 12 is a plan view of the lower section of the second embodiment of the control rod guide assembly illustrated in Figure 11;

    Figure 13 is a cross sectional view of another embodiment of the control rod guide assembly in which the upper guide tube section and the lower guide tube section are constructed as a solid member; and

    Figure 14 is a perspective view of the embodiment shown in Figure 13.


    DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT



    [0021] The useful life of a guide tube 54 can be substantially extended by replacing the guide plate at the intermediate coupling 86 during a refueling outage with the extended control rod guide assembly of this invention, one embodiment of which is illustrated in Figure 6. This invention provides an extended control rod guide assembly 90 that is supported substantially at the intermediate coupling 86 and extends axially, a finite distance into at least one of the interior of the lower guide tube section 78 or the upper guide tube section 84. The embodiment illustrated in Figure 6 extends into both the upper guide tube section 84 and the lower guide tube section 78 and is formed from a lower segment 94 and an upper segment 92. The upper segment 92 has a guide plate 114 at its lower end with openings 72 that substantially match the openings in the guide card 70 and terminates at its upper end 106 with a guide ring with peripheral openings 72 that support a portion of the circumference of the outer row of control rods 28. In addition, continuous support between the lower support plate 114 and the upper support ring 106 is provided by the support channels 110 for the control rods at the cardinal axes of the control rod assembly. Thus, discrete axially spaced support for some of the control rods 28 are provided while continuous support is provided for other of the control rods 28 over the upper segment 92 of the extended control rod guide assembly 90.

    [0022] The lower segment 94 of the extended control rod guide assembly of this embodiment terminates at its upper end in a guide plate 116 with openings that correspond to the openings in the guide plate 114 on the upper segment 92. The lower segment 94 terminates at its lower end in a guide ring 108 which is connected to the guide plate 116 by the continuous support channels 110 as shown in Figure 8. The upper guide plate 114 and the lower guide plate 116 are joined by the bolts 104 and aligned through an alignment pin in one or the other of the guide plates, that fits through an alignment hole 100 in the other of the guide plates to assure the openings 72 in the guide plates 114 and 116 are lined up.

    [0023] Figure 9 shows the extended control rod guide assembly 90 with its flanges 96 and 98 installed in a recess in the intermediate coupling 86 which is locked in place by the bolts 112. Figure 10 shows a perspective view of the upper segment 92 of the extended control rod guide assembly 90 installed within the lower guide tube section 78 with the flange 96 resting on the lower flange of the intermediate coupling 86. In this embodiment where not all of the control rods receive continuous support over the length of the extended control rod guide assembly, the control rod guide assembly may extend approximately between 0.9 and 23 inches (2.3 and 58.4 cm). More preferably, this type of control rod guide assembly extends axially approximately between 0.9 and 7 inches (2.3 and 17.8 cm).

    [0024] Like reference characters are employed for corresponding components among the several views. In another embodiment shown in Figures 11 -14 the upper segment 92 and the lower segment 94 of the extended control rod guide assembly 90 are respectively made of a solid continuous length of material such as stainless steel with the openings 72, 74 and 76 providing continuous guidance for all of the control rods over substantially the entire length of the extended control rod guide assembly. As in the above case the upper segment 92 and the lower segment 94 may be joined at the intermediate coupling 86 which captures the respective flanges 96 and 98. Alternately, the upper segment 92 and the lower segment 94 can be constructed as one piece with the flange 96/98 radially extending from an intermediate elevation for capture within the intermediate coupling. In this latter embodiment, the control rod guide assembly may extend approximately between 1.6 and 23 inches (4.1 and 58.4 cm). More preferably, the control rod guide assembly extends axially approximately between 1.6 and 7 inches (4.1 and 17.8 cm).

    [0025] Thus, the extended control rod guide assembly of this invention, when installed, provides extended support for the control rod assembly that compensates for some of the wear in the guide cards 70, while adding a minimum of additional friction to the control rod travel path and substantially extends the life of a control rod guide tube 54 without requiring replacement of either of the guide tube sections.

    [0026] While specific embodiments of the invention have been described in detail, it will be appreciated by those skilled in the art that various modifications and alternatives to those details could be developed in light of the overall teachings of the disclosure. Accordingly, the particular embodiments disclosed are meant to be illustrative only and not limiting as to the scope of the invention which is to be given the full breadth of the appended claims.


    Claims

    1. A nuclear reactor including a pressure vessel (10) housing a core (14) of fissile material and an upper core plate (40) substantially covering the core, a control rod guide tube (54) having an extended axial length, for guiding a control rod assembly (80) comprising a plurality of individual control rods, into and out of the core, the control rod guide tube extending between the upper core plate and an upper support plate (46) supported above the upper core plate, the control rod guide tube comprising:

    a lower guide tube section (78) connected at a first end to the upper core plate (40) and terminating at a second end at an intermediate coupling (86);

    an upper guide tube section (84) connected at a first end portion to the upper support plate (46) and terminating at a second end at the intermediate coupling (86);

    a plurality of control rod guide cards (70) supported in spaced relationship to each other along the length of the lower guide tube section (78) and the upper guide tube section (84), the plurality of control rod guide cards are configured to align the plurality of individual control rods; and

    an extended control rod guide assembly (90) supported at the intermediate coupling (86) and having a peripheral radially extending flange (96, 98) extending into a recess of the intermediate coupling,

    characterized in that the extended control rod guide assembly (90) extends from the peripheral radially extending flange (96, 98) axially a finite distance into at least one of an interior of the lower guide tube section (78) or the upper guide tube section (84), the extended control rod guide assembly being arranged for providing continuous support over the length of the extended control rod guide assembly for at least some of the plurality of the control rods.


     
    2. The nuclear reactor of Claim 1 wherein at least some of the plurality of control rods (28) are continuously guided over substantially an entire axial length of the extended control rod guide assembly (90).
     
    3. The nuclear reactor of Claim 2 wherein some of the control rods (28) are guided over discrete, spaced axial elevations (98, 108) along the axial length of the extended control rod guide assembly (90).
     
    4. The nuclear reactor of Claim 3 wherein the control rods (28) extending along the cardinal axis (110) of the extended control rod guide assembly (90) are continuously guided over substantially an entire axial length of the extended control rod guide assembly.
     
    5. The nuclear reactor of Claim 2 wherein all of the control rods (28) are continuously guided over substantially the entire axial length of the extended control rod guide assembly (90).
     
    6. The nuclear reactor of Claim 5 wherein the extended control rod guide assembly (90) extends axially approximately between 4.1 and 58.4 cm (1.6 and 23 inches).
     
    7. The nuclear reactor of Claim 6 wherein the extended control rod guide assembly (90) extends axially approximately between 4.1 and 17.8 cm (1.6 and 7 inches).
     
    8. The nuclear reactor of Claim 1 wherein the extended control rod guide assembly (90) has a first axially extending segment (94) and a second axially extending segment (92) with the first segment extending into the lower guide tube section (78) and the second segment extending into the upper guide tube section (84).
     
    9. The nuclear reactor of Claim 8 wherein the first segment (94) terminates at an upper end in a first guide plate (98), the second segment (92) terminates at a lower end in a second guide plate (96) and the first and second guide plates are joined at the intermediate coupling (86).
     
    10. The nuclear reactor of Claim 9 wherein the first and second guide plates (98, 96) have openings (72) through which all of the control rods pass and the first and second guide plates have either an alignment hole (100) or an alignment pin for aligning the openings in the first guide plate with the corresponding openings in the second guide plate.
     
    11. The nuclear reactor of Claim 9 wherein the first guide plate (98) and the second guide plate (96) respectively have a peripheral radially extending flange with each flange extending into a recess on a radial interior of the intermediate coupling (86), which clamps the flanges together.
     
    12. The nuclear reactor of Claim 1 wherein the extended control rod guide assembly (90) extends axially approximately between 2.3 and 58.4 cm (0.9 and 23 inches).
     
    13. The nuclear reactor of Claim 12 wherein the extended control rod guide assembly (90) more preferably extends axially approximately between 2.3 and 17.8 cm (0.9 and 7 inches).
     


    Ansprüche

    1. Kernreaktor, mit einem Druckgefäß (10), das einen Kern (14) aus spaltbarem Material einhaust, und einer oberen Kernplatte (40), die den Kern im Wesentlichen abdeckt, einem Steuerstab-Führungsrohr (54), das eine erweiterte axiale Länge aufweist, zur Führung einer Steuerstabanordnung (80) umfassend eine Vielzahl von einzelnen Steuerstäben in den und aus dem Kern, wobei sich das Steuerstab-Führungsrohr zwischen der oberen Kernplatte und einer oberen Trägerplatte (46) erstreckt, die über der Kernplatte getragen wird, wobei das Steuerstab-Führungsrohr umfasst:

    eine untere Führungsrohrsektion (78), die an einem ersten Ende mit der oberen Kernplatte (40) verbunden ist und an einem zweiten Ende an einer Zwischenkupplung (86) endet;

    eine obere Führungsrohrsektion (84), die an einem ersten Endabschnitt mit der oberen Trägerplatte (46) verbunden ist und an einem zweiten Ende an der Zwischenkupplung (86) endet;

    eine Vielzahl von Steuerstab-Führungskarten (70), die in beabstandeter Beziehung zueinander entlang der Länge der unteren Führungsrohrsektion (78) und der oberen Führungsrohrsektion (84) getragen werden, wobei die Vielzahl von Steuerstab-Führungskarten dazu ausgestaltet ist, die Vielzahl von einzelnen Steuerstäben auszurichten; und

    eine erweiterte Steuerstab-Führungsanordnung (90), die an der Zwischenkupplung (86) getragen wird und einen umlaufenden, sich radial erstreckenden Flansch (96, 98) aufweist, der sich in eine Ausnehmung der Zwischenkupplung hinein erstreckt,

    dadurch gekennzeichnet, dass die erweiterte Steuerstab-Führungsanordnung (90) sich von dem umlaufenden, sich radial erstreckenden Flansch (96, 98) axial um einen finiten Abstand in zumindest einen Innenraum der unteren Führungsrohrsektion (78) oder der oberen Führungsrohrsektion (84) erstreckt, wobei die erweiterte Steuerstab-Führungsanordnung angeordnet ist, um für zumindest einige der Vielzahl der Steuerstäbe eine durchgehende Stützung über die Länge der erweiterten Steuerstab-Führungsanordnung bereitzustellen.


     
    2. Kernreaktor nach Anspruch 1, wobei zumindest einige der Vielzahl von Steuerstäben (28) über im Wesentlichen eine gesamte axiale Länge der erweiterten Steuerstab-Führungsanordnung (90) durchgehend geführt werden.
     
    3. Kernreaktor nach Anspruch 2, wobei einige der Steuerstäbe (28) über diskrete, beabstandete axiale Höhen (98, 108) entlang der axialen Länge der erweiterten Steuerstab-Führungsanordnung (90) geführt werden.
     
    4. Kernreaktor nach Anspruch 3, wobei die Steuerstäbe (28), die sich entlang der Hauptachse (110) der erweiterten Steuerstab-Führungsanordnung (90) erstrecken, über im Wesentlichen eine gesamte axiale Länge der erweiterten Steuerstab-Führungsanordnung durchgehendgeführt werden.
     
    5. Kernreaktor nach Anspruch 2, wobei alle der Steuerstäbe (28) über im Wesentlichen die gesamte axiale Länge der erweiterten Steuerstab-Führungsanordnung (90) durchgehend geführt werden.
     
    6. Kernreaktor nach Anspruch 5, wobei die erweiterte Steuerstab-Führungsanordnung (90) sich axial ungefähr zwischen 4,1 und 58,4 cm (1,6 und 23 Zoll) erstreckt.
     
    7. Kernreaktor nach Anspruch 6, wobei die erweiterte Steuerstab-Führungsanordnung (90) sich axial ungefähr zwischen 4,1 und 17,8 cm (1,6 und 7 Zoll) erstreckt.
     
    8. Kernreaktor nach Anspruch 1, wobei die erweiterte Steuerstab-Führungsanordnung (90) ein erstes sich axial erstreckendes Segment (94) und ein zweites sich axial erstreckendes Segment (92) aufweist, wobei das erste Segment sich in die untere Führungsrohrsektion (78) erstreckt, und das zweite Segment sich in die obere Führungsrohrsektion (84) erstreckt.
     
    9. Kernreaktor nach Anspruch 8, wobei das erste Segment (94) an einem oberen Ende in einer ersten Führungsplatte (98) endet, das zweite Segment (92) an einem unteren Ende in einer zweiten Führungsplatte (96) endet, und die erste und zweite Führungsplatte an der Zwischenkupplung (86) zusammengefügt sind.
     
    10. Kernreaktor nach Anspruch 9, wobei die erste und zweite Führungsplatte (98, 96) Öffnungen (72) aufweisen, durch welche alle Steuerstäbe durchgehen, und die erste und zweite Führungsplatte entweder ein Ausrichtungsloch (100) oder einen Ausrichtungsstift zum Ausrichten der Öffnungen in der ersten Führungsplatte mit den entsprechenden Öffnungen in der zweiten Führungsplatte aufweisen.
     
    11. Kernreaktor nach Anspruch 9, wobei die erste Führungsplatte (98) und die zweite Führungsplatte (96) jeweils einen umlaufenden, sich radial erstreckenden Flansch aufweisen, wobei jeder Flansch sich in eine Ausnehmung an einer radialen Innenseite der Zwischenkupplung (86) hinein erstreckt, wodurch die Flansche zusammengeklemmt werden.
     
    12. Kernreaktor nach Anspruch 1, wobei die erweiterte Steuerstab-Führungsanordnung (90) sich axial ungefähr zwischen 2,3 und 58,4 cm (0,9 und 23 Zoll) erstreckt.
     
    13. Kernreaktor nach Anspruch 12, wobei die erweiterte Steuerstab-Führungsanordnung (90) sich axial bevorzugt ungefähr zwischen 2,3 und 17,8 cm (0,9 und 7 Zoll) erstreckt.
     


    Revendications

    1. Réacteur nucléaire comportant une cuve sous pression (10) logeant un cœur (14) du matériau fissile et une plaque de cœur supérieure (40) sensiblement recouvrant le cœur, un tube guide de barre de commande (54) ayant une longueur axiale étendue, pour guider un ensemble de barres de commande (80) comprenant une pluralité de barres de commande individuelles dans le et hors du cœur, le tube guide de barre de commande s'étendant entre la plaque de cœur supérieure et une plaque de support (46) supérieure supportée au-dessus de la plaque de cœur supérieure, le tube guide de barre de commande comprenant :

    une section de tube guide (78) inférieure, reliée, au niveau d'une première extrémité, à la plaque de cœur (40) supérieure et se terminant, au niveau d'une seconde extrémité, à un accouplement intermédiaire (86) ;

    une section de tube guide (84) supérieure, reliée, au niveau d'une première portion terminale, à la plaque de support (46) supérieure, et se terminant, au niveau d'une seconde extrémité, à l'accouplement intermédiaire (86) ;

    une pluralité de cartes de guidage pour barre de commande (70) supportées en relation espacée les unes avec les autres le long de la longueur de la section inférieure de tube guide (78) et la section supérieure de tube guide (84), la pluralité de cartes de guidage pour barre de commande étant configurée pour aligner la pluralité de barres de commande individuelles ; et

    un ensemble de guidage pour barre de commande (90) étendu, supporté au niveau de l'accouplement intermédiaire (86) et ayant une bride périphérique et s'étendant radialement (96, 98) qui entre dans un évidement de l'accouplement intermédiaire,

    caractérisé en ce que l'ensemble de guidage pour barre de commande (90) étendu s'étend axialement de la bride périphérique et s'étendant radialement (96, 98), une distance déterminée dans au moins un intérieur de la section inférieure de tube guide (78) ou la section supérieure de tube guide (84), l'ensemble de guidage pour barre de commande étant disposé pour fournir, pour au moins une partie de la pluralité de barres de commande, un support continu sur la longueur de l'ensemble de guidage pour barre de commande étendu.


     
    2. Réacteur nucléaire selon la revendication 1, dans lequel au moins une partie de la pluralité de barres de commande (28) est guidée en continue sur sensiblement toute la longueur axiale de l'ensemble de guidage pour barre de commande étendu (90).
     
    3. Réacteur nucléaire selon la revendication 2, dans lequel une partie des barres de commande (28) est guidée sur élévations discrètes et axialement espacées (98, 108) le long de la longueur de l'ensemble de guidage pour barre de commande (90) étendu.
     
    4. Réacteur nucléaire selon la revendication 3, dans lequel les barres de commande (28) s'étendant le long de l'axe cardinal (110) de l'ensemble de guidage pour barre de commande (90) étendu sont guidées en continu sur sensiblement toute la longueur axiale de l'ensemble de guidage pour barre de commande étendu.
     
    5. Réacteur nucléaire selon la revendication 2, dans lequel toutes les barres de commande (28) sont guidées en continue sur sensiblement toute la longueur axiale de l'ensemble de guidage pour barre de commande étendu (90).
     
    6. Réacteur nucléaire selon la revendication 5, dans lequel l'ensemble de guidage pour barre de commande (90) étendu s'étend axialement environ entre 4,1 et 58,4 cm (1,6 et 23 pouces).
     
    7. Réacteur nucléaire selon la revendication 6, dans lequel l'ensemble de guidage pour barre de commande (90) étendu s'étend axialement environ entre 4,1 et 17,8 cm (1,6 et 7 pouces).
     
    8. Réacteur nucléaire selon la revendication 1, dans lequel l'ensemble de guidage pour barre de commande (90) étendu a un premier segment s'étendant axialement (94) et un second segment s'étendant axialement (92), le premier segment s'étendant dans la section inférieure de tube guide (78) et le second segment s'étendant dans la section supérieure de tube guide (84).
     
    9. Réacteur nucléaire selon la revendication 8, dans lequel le premier segment (94) se termine, au niveau d'une extrémité supérieure, dans une première plaque de guidage (98), le second segment (92) se termine, au niveau d'une extrémité inférieure, dans une seconde plaque de guidage (96), et les première et seconde plaques de guidage sont réunies au niveau de l'accouplement intermédiaire (86).
     
    10. Réacteur nucléaire selon la revendication 9, dans lequel les première et seconde plaques de guidage (98, 96) ont des ouvertures (72) à travers lesquelles toutes les barres de commande passent, et les première et seconde plaques de guidage ont soit un trou d'alignement (100) soit une broche d'alignement, pour aligner les ouvertures dans la première plaque de guidage avec les ouvertures correspondantes dans la seconde plaque de guidage.
     
    11. Réacteur nucléaire selon la revendication 9, dans lequel la première plaque de guidage (98) et la seconde plaque de guidage (96) respectivement ont une bride périphérique et s'étendant radialement, avec chaque bride entrant dans un évidement sur un intérieur radial de l'accouplement intermédiaire (86), ainsi serrant les brides l'une à l'autre.
     
    12. Réacteur nucléaire selon la revendication 1, dans lequel l'ensemble de guidage pour barre de commande (90) étendu s'étend axialement environ entre 2,3 et 58,4 cm (0,9 et 23 pouces).
     
    13. Réacteur nucléaire selon la revendication 12, dans lequel l'ensemble de guidage pour barre de commande (90) étendu s'étend axialement de préférence environ entre 2,3 et 17,8 cm (0,9 et 7 pouces).
     




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    REFERENCES CITED IN THE DESCRIPTION



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    Patent documents cited in the description