An Experimental Investigation of Internally Ignited Fires in Nuclear Power Plant Control Cabinets: Part 1 — Cabinet Effects Tests (NUREG/CR-4527, SAND86-0336, Volume 1)

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Publication Information

Manuscript Completed: November 1986
Date Published: April 1987

Prepared by:
J.M. Chavez
Sandia National Laboratories
Albuquerque. New Mexico 87185
Operated by Sandia Corporation
for the U.S. Department of Energy
Under Contract No. DE-AC04-76DP00789

Prepared for:
Division of Engineering
Office of Nuclear Regulatory Research
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Washington, DC 20555-0001

Under Memorandum of Understanding DOE 40-550-75

NRC FIN A-1010

Availability Notice


A series of full-scale cabinet fire tests was conducted by Sandia National Laboratories for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The cabinet fire tests were prompted by the potential threat to the safety of a nuclear power plant by a cabinet fire in either the control room or in a switchgear type room. The purpose of these cabinet fire tests was to characterize the development and effects of internally ignited cabinet fires as a function of several parameters believed to most influence the burning process. A primary goal of this test program was to test representative and credible configurations and materials. This series of 22 cabinet fire tests demonstrated that fires in either benchboard or vertical cabinets with either IEEE-383 qualified cable or unqualified cable can be ignited and propagate. However, fires with IEEE-383 qualified cable do not propagate as rapidly nor to the extent that unqualified cable does. Furthermore, the results showed that the thermal environment in the test enclosure and adjacent cabinets is not severe enough to result in autoignition of other combustibles; although in some of the larger fires melting of plastic materials may occur. Smoke accumulation in the room appeared to be the most significant problem, as smoke obscured the view in the enclosure within minutes after ignition. Essentially, a cabinet fire can propagate within a single cabinet; however, for the conditions tested it does not appear that the fire poses a threat outside the burning cabinet except the resulting smoke.

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