Nuclear containments are critical components for the safety of nuclear power plants. Failure can result in catastrophic safety consequences as a result of leakage of radiation. Prestressed concrete containments have been used in large nuclear power plants with significant design internal pressure. These containments are generally reinforced with prestressing tendons in the circumferential (hoop) and meridional (vertical) directions.
The curvature effect of the tendons introduces radial tensile stresses in the concrete shell that are generally neglected in the design of such structures. It is assumed that such tensile radial stresses are small as such no radial reinforcement is provided for this purpose. But recent instances of significant delaminations in Crystal River Unit 3 in Florida have elevated the need for reevaluation of the radial tension issue in prestressed containment. Note that currently there are no well accepted industry standards for design and detailing of radial reinforcement.
This paper discusses the issue of radial tension in prestressed cylindrical and dome shaped structures and proposes formulae to calculate radial stresses. A practical example is presented to illustrate the use of the proposed method which is then verified by using state-of-the-art finite element analysis. This paper also provides some practical design consideration for detailing of radial reinforcement in prestressed containments.