Date of Award

Summer 2017

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Engineering Management

Committee Director

C. Ariel Pinto

Committee Member

Adrian Gheorghe

Committee Member

Resit Unal

Abstract

The primary purpose of this study is to perform an Initiating Event Analysis for a Lithium Fluoride Thorium Reactor (LFTR) as the first step of a Probabilistic Safety Assessment (PSA). The major objective of the research is to compile a list of key initiating events capable of resulting in failure of safety systems and release of radioactive material from the LFTR.

Due to the complex interactions between engineering design, component reliability and human reliability, probabilistic safety assessments are most useful when the scope is limited to a single reactor plant. Thus, this thesis will study the LFTR design proposed by Flibe Energy. An October 2015 Electric Power Research Institute report on the Flibe Energy LFTR asked “what-if?” questions of subject matter experts and compiled a list of key hazards with the most significant consequences to the safety or integrity of the LFTR. The potential exists for unforeseen hazards to pose additional risk for the LFTR, but the scope of this thesis is limited to evaluation of those key hazards already identified by Flibe Energy.

These key hazards are the starting point for the Initiating Event Analysis performed in this thesis. Engineering evaluation and technical study of the plant using a literature review and comparison to reference technology revealed four hazards with high potential to cause reactor core damage. To determine the initiating events resulting in realization of these four hazards, reference was made to previous PSAs and existing NRC and EPRI initiating event lists. Finally, fault tree and event tree analyses were conducted, completing the logical classification of initiating events. Results are qualitative as opposed to quantitative due to the early stages of system design descriptions and lack of operating experience or data for the LFTR.

In summary, this thesis analyzes initiating events using previous research and inductive and deductive reasoning through traditional risk management techniques to arrive at a list of key initiating events that can be used to address vulnerabilities during the design phases of LFTR development.

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