A possible application of catastrophe theory to boiling water reactor instability

Imre Pázsit, Victor Dykin, Hidetoshi Konno, Tomasz Kozlowski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


It is known that the stability of boiling water reactors (BWRs), when quantified with the so-called decay ratio as the stability parameter, may show seemingly abrupt changes, despite the smooth variations of the control parameters (reactor power and core flow). There is also evidence of the fact that the stability properties can exhibit a hysteresis effect when moving back and forth on the same path on the power-flow map. The most common explanation of the abrupt change is based on the co-existence of two different types of instabilities (global and regional), and their interplay (van der Hagen et al., 1994; Pázsit, 1995). In this paper we suggest an alternative phenomenological explanation, which only assumes the existence of one single mode of instability. We propose the hypothesis that the decay ratio of one single mode of a complex, many-variable non-linear system might obey a cusp catastrophe as a function of the control parameters. Such a phenomenological model can explain both the discontinuous variation of the decay ratio, as well as the hysteresis effect. Since a cusp-type behaviour implies that the decay ratio is many-valued in a certain region of the power-flow map, a mechanism is suggested how a Hopf bifurcation with multiplicative noise can lead to such a behaviour.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number103054
JournalProgress in Nuclear Energy
StatePublished - Jan 2020


  • BWR stability
  • Catastrophe theory
  • Decay ratio
  • Ringhals-1 instability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nuclear Energy and Engineering
  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Waste Management and Disposal

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