Nuclear power plants typically consider a turbine trip and rapid closure of the main turbine stop valves as a normal transient event. As required by ASME Code [1], the piping loads generated by the unbalanced pressures in the system resulting from the rapid valve closure are part of the analyzed spectrum of conditions in the piping and support analysis. The analysis that determines the magnitude and timing of the loads is often referred to as a “steamhammer” analysis.

Currently, there are several computerized analytical techniques to determine the steamhammer piping and support loads [2], but because of compressibility assumptions the equations become more difficult to solve than in the analogous incompressible waterhammer models, which are quite straightforward.

This paper highlights the effect of fluid compressibility by comparing results predicted by both waterhammer (slightly compressible) flow models and compressible (steamhammer) flow models. Guidelines are offered to show how parameters of a piping system (such as pipe length, valve closure time and flow characteristic, steam initial state properties, and velocity) can be interpreted to determine if compressible effects are insignificant or if they play a significant role.

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