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Enhancing Nuclear Safety


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Numerical simulation of two-phase flow in severely damaged core geometries


Congress title :ICONE 14th International Conference on Nuclear Engineering
Congress town :Miami
Congress date :17/07/2006

Document type > *Congrès/colloque

Keywords >

Research Unit > IRSN/DPAM/SEMCA/LESAM

Authors > FICHOT Florian, MEEKUNNASOMBAT Phongsan, QUINTARD Michel

Publication Date > 20/07/2006

Summary

In the event of a severe accident in a nuclear reactor, the oxidation, dissolution and collapse of fuel rods is likely to change dramatically the geometry of the core. A large part of the core would be damaged and would look like porous medium made of randomly distributed pellet fragments, broken claddings and relocated melts. Such a complex medium must be cooled in order to stop the accident progression. IRSN investigates the effectiveness of the water re-flooding mechanism in cooling this medium where complex two-phase flows are likely to exist. A macroscopic model for the prediction of the cooling sequence was developed for the ICARE/CATHARE code (IRSN mechanistic code for severe accidents). It still needs to be improved and assessed. It appears that a better understanding of the flow at the pore scale is necessary. As a result, a direct numerical simulation (DNS) code was developed to investigate the local features of a two-phase flow in complex geometries. In this paper, the Cahn-Hilliard model is used to simulate flows of two immiscible fluids in geometries representing a damaged core. These geometries are synthesized from experimental tomography images (PHEBUS-FP project) in order to study the effects of each degradation feature, such as displacement and fragmentation of the fuel rods and claddings, on the two-phase flow. For example, the presence of fragmented fuel claddings is likely to enhance the trapping of the residual phase (either steam or water) within the medium which leads to less flow fluctuations in the other phase. Such features are clearly shown by DNS calculations. From a series of calculations where the geometry of the porous medium is changed, conclusions are drawn for the impact of rods damage level on the characteristics of two-phase flow in the core.

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