A failure in the control system of the power of a nuclear reactor can lead to a Reactivity Initiated Accident in a nuclear power plant. Then, a power peak occurs in some fuel rods, high enough to lead to the coolant film boiling. It leads to an important increase of the temperature of the rod. The possible risk of the clad’s failure is a matter of interest for the Institut de Radioprotection et de Sécurité Nucléaire.
The transient boiling heat transfer is not yet understood and modelled. An experimental set-up has been built at the Institut de Mécanique des Fluides de Toulouse (IMFT). Subcooled HFE-7000 flows vertically upward in a semi annulus test section. The inner half cylinder simulates the clad and is made of a stainless steel foil, heated by Joule effect. Its temperature is measured by an infrared camera, coupled with a high speed camera for the visualization of the flow topology.
The whole boiling curve is studied in steady state and transient regimes : convection, onset of boiling, nucleate boiling, criticial heat flux, film boiling and rewetting. The steady state heat transfers are well modelled by literature correlations. Models are suggested for the transient heat flux : the convection and nucleate boiling evolutions are self-similar during a power step. This observation allows to model more complex evolutions, as temperature ramps. The transient Hsu model well represents the onset of nucleate boiling. When the intensity of the power step increases, the film boiling begins at the same temperature but with an increasing heat flux. For power ramps, the critical heat flux decreases while the corresponding temperature increases with the heating rate. When the wall is heated, the film boiling heat transfer is higher than in steady state but it is not understood. A two-fluid model well simulates the cooling film boiling and the rewetting.