The present study aims to develop a mechanistic understanding of the thermal-hydraulic processes in a vapor explosion, which may occur in nuclear power plants during a hypothetical severe accident involving interactions of high-temperature corium melt and volatile coolant. Over the past several decades, a large body of literature has been accumulated on vapor explosion phenomenology and methods for assessment of the related risk. Vapor explosion is driven by a rapid fragmentation of high temperaturemelt droplets, leading to a substantial increase of heattransfer areas and subsequent explosive evaporation of the volatile coolant. Constrained by the liquid-phase coolant, the rapid vapor production in the interaction zone causes pressurization and dynamic loading on surrounding structures. While such a general understanding has been established, the triggering mechanism and subsequent dynamic fine fragmentation have yet not been clearly understood. A few mechanistic fragmentation models have been proposed, however, computational efforts to simulate the phenomena generated a large scatter of results.
Dynamics of the hot liquid (melt) droplet and the volatile liquid (coolant) are investigated in the MISTEE (Micro-Interactions in Steam Explosion Experiments) facility by performing well-controlled, externally triggered, single-droplet experiments, using a high-speed visualization system with synchronized digital cinematography and continuous X-ray radiography, called SHARP (Simultaneous High-speed Acquisition of X-ray Radiography and Photography). After an elaborate image processing, the SHARP images depict the evolution of both melt material (dispersal) and coolant (bubble dynamics), and their microscale interactions, i.e. the triggering phenomenology.
The images point to coolant entrainment into the droplet surface as the mechanism for direct contact/mixing ultimately responsible for energetic interactions. Most importantly, the MISTEE data reveals an inverse correlation between the coolant temperature and the molten droplet deformation/prefragmentation during the first bubble dynamics cycle. The SHARP observations followed by further analysis leads to a hypothesis about a novel phenomenon called pre-conditioning, according to which dynamics of the first bubble-dynamics cycle and the ability of the melt drop to deform/pre-fragment dictate the subsequent explosivity of the so-triggered droplet.
The effect of non-condensable gases on the perceived mechanisms was investigated on the MISTEE-NCG test campaign, in which a considerable amount of non-condensable gases (NCG) are present in the film that enfolds the molten droplet. The SHARP images for the MISTEE-NCG tests were analyzed and special attention was given to the morphology (aspect ratio) and dynamics of the air/ vapor bubble, as well as the melt drop preconditioning and interaction energetics. Analysis showed twomain aspects when compared to the MISTEE test series (withoutentrapped air). First, the investigation showed that the meltpreconditioning still strongly depends on the coolant subcooling. Second,in respect to the energetics, the tests consistently showed a reducedconversion ratio compared to that of the MISTEE test series.
The effect of the melt material in the steam explosion triggerability was also summoned, since it would in principle directly implicate the melt preconditioning. Since a number of the thermo-physical properties of the material would influence the triggering process, we focused on the material properties by using the same dioxide material with difference concentrations, i.e. eutectic and non-eutectic. Unfortunately, due to the high melt superheat the possible differences were not perceived. Thus, inaddition to other materials, lower melt superheat tests were schedule inthe future.
Stockholm: KTH , 2010. , xx, 171 p.
2010-11-23, seminar room F3, Lindstedtsvägen 26, KTH, Stockholm, 14:50 (English)
Ma, Weimin, Dr.