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Experimental study of flow boiling in porous media: dryout and critical heat flux

​Ange Gourbil has defended his thesis on 29th June 2017 in Toulouse.

Document type > *Mémoire/HDR/Thesis

Keywords >


Authors > GOURBIL Ange

Publication Date > 29/06/2017


This work is motivated by the need to better understand the phenomena occurring while some water is injected into a heated porous debris bed. This reflooding operation is a part of the planned mitigation procedure used during a Loss Of Coolant Accident (LOCA) that may occur into a nuclear power plant and results into a severe core damage. Our experimental study aims to characterize the boiling crisis that can happen in a boiling flow taking place within a heatgenerating model porous medium. The test section is a two-dimensional model porous medium, composed of an array of 276 cylinders placed between two ceramic plates spaced from one another by 3 mm, one of which is transparent and allows visualizations of the flow. The 2 mm diameter cylinders are Pt100 resistance temperature detectors that perform a dual function: they act as heating elements (heated by Joule effect) and are also used as temperature probes. A fluid loop allows controlling the liquid injection flow rate, its inlet temperature as well as its pressure. The test section is held vertically, the liquid injected from bottom at a temperature close to the saturation temperature.

In a first series of experiments, the thermal power applied to a bundle of heating cylinders is progressively increased until a dry zone is detected in the porous medium. Two kinds of phenomenology are observed during these “dryout experiments”. First, at low liquid injection rate (4 kg.m^-2.s^-1 maximum mass flux), reaching the dryout power results into a liquid front receding down to the upper limit of the heated zone, while downstream the heated zone, the porous medium is vapour-saturated. Second, at higher flow rate, the boiling crisis happens at the surface of a single heating element, resulting in a local film boiling, whereas a two-phase flow still go through the whole test section. High-speed visualizations allow characterizing the flow regimes.

Other experiments focus on determining the local critical heat flux on a given cylinder, for different upstream flow configurations. The inlet liquid flow rate is fixed. A thermal power is uniformly applied to a line of heating cylinders, upstream the cylinder under study. Results show that the local critical heat flux decreases as the power applied to the heated line increases. The distance from the cylinder under study to the heated line seems not to have a significant effect on the critical heat flux. Visualizations are used to characterize the two-phase flow upstream the heated line, aiming at expressing the critical heat flux as a function of the hydrodynamic parameters (saturations, phase velocities).

The image analysis is particularly challenging. In order to calibrate the image processing parameters, we use a second model porous medium with the same geometry as the heat generating one, but where an isothermal two-phase flow is obtained by injecting gas into the liquid flow rather than generated by boiling. The gas injection flow rate is controlled and measured. Isothermal two-phase flow visualizations provide a reference case and are compared to flow boiling visualizations.

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