Tellurium Behavior and Management in the Liquid Phases in the Containment During a Severe Nuclear Reactor Accident
Licentiatavhandling, 2020

No industry is immune to accidents; however, the consequences and the probability are the parameters to consider when assessing the risks. When considering nuclear power, two of the highest-level accidents have occurred during the course of the commercial use of nuclear energy. The consequences of these events were the release of radioactive material to the environment and increased radiation dose to the people. Severe nuclear accident research is therefore crucial in both minimizing the consequences and assessing the effects of the potential releases. The lessons learned from previous nuclear reactor accidents have resulted in higher safety standards, more accurate source term assessment, and improvements in accident management actions. Yet, there are still uncertainties about the behavior of radionuclides during a severe nuclear reactor accident that need to be addressed.


One of the elements released in a severe reactor accident is tellurium. It has several radioactive isotopes that can potentially cause an increased dose in the population if released. Moreover, many of the tellurium isotopes decay to iodine and therefore contribute to the iodine source term. The behavior and release of tellurium have been investigated in the fuel and the reactor system during the past decades. However, the released species, including tellurium, are subjected to different management actions after entering the containment including the containment spray system. The removal efficiency of the spray system towards tellurium species formed under various conditions has been unclear. In this work, the effectiveness was investigated in relation to tellurium species under various atmospheres and in the presence of cesium iodide. In addition, the effect of the chemical composition of the spray was also examined. The spray system was found to be relatively effective in all conditions tested. Moreover, the increase in chemical content of the spray solution increased the removal efficiency.


After being removed from the containment atmosphere, the species, including various tellurium compounds, may enter the containment sump. Due to the complex chemistry of tellurium, it is difficult to predict the behavior under different redox conditions and especially under irradiation. This work therefore investigated the behavior of tellurium dioxide was investigated in simplified containment sump conditions in relation to dissolution, redox reactions and interactions with water radiolysis products. The results indicate that radiolysis products have a significant effect on tellurium chemistry in both reducing and oxidizing manner depending on the solution composition. The redox reactions also affect the solubility of tellurium both by increasing and decreasing it depending on the prevailing conditions. The results show that the current information used to assess tellurium source term needs to be re-evaluated for both severe accident management as well as for severe accident code validation purposes.

severe nuclear reactor accident

fission product

source term


Opponent: Dr. Jörgen Finne


Anna-Elina Pasi

Chalmers, Kemi och kemiteknik, Energi och material, Kärnkemi

Tellurium Behavior in the Containment Sump: Dissolution, Redox, and Radiolysis Effects

Nuclear Technology,; (2020)p. 1-11

Artikel i vetenskaplig tidskrift

Kärkelä T, Pasi, A-E, Espegren, F, Sevón, T, Tapper, U, Ekberg, C. Tellurium Retention by Containment Spray System




Grundläggande vetenskaper


Annan kemi



Chalmers tekniska högskola


Opponent: Dr. Jörgen Finne

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