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Experimentation, modeling and simulation of the impact of water drops on the swollen cladding of fuel assemblies of a PWR in LOCA

Franck Lelong, mechanics and energetics PhD thesis defended on the 4th october 2010 in Henri Poincaré – Nancy 1 University

Document type > *Mémoire/HDR/Thesis

Keywords > modelling, water droplets, loss of coolant accident (LOCA)


Authors > LELONG Franck

Publication Date > 04/10/2010


In a pressurized water reactor (PWR), during a Loss Of Coolant Accident (LOCA), liquid water evaporates and the fuel assemblies are not cooled anymore; as a consequence, the temperature rises to such an extent that some parts of the fuel assemblies can be deformed resulting in ’ballooned regions’. When reflooding occurs, the cooling of these partially blocked parts of the fuel assemblies will depend on the coolant flow that is a mixture of overheated vapour and undersaturated droplets. The aim of this thesis is to study the heat transfer between droplets and hot walls of the fuel rods.

In this purpose, an experimental device has been designed in accordance with droplets and wall features (droplet velocity and diameter, wall temperature) representative of LOCA conditions. The cooling of a hot Nickel disk, previously heated by induction, is cooled down by a stream of monodispersed droplet. The rear face temperature profiles are measured by infrared thermography. Then, the estimation of wall heat flux is performed by an inverse conduction technique from these infrared images. The effect of droplet dynamical properties (diameter, velocity …) on the heat flux is studied. These experimental datas allow us to validate an analytical
model of heat exchange between droplet and hot slab.

This model is based on combined dynamical and thermal considerations. On the one hand, the droplet dynamics is considered through a spring analogy in order to evaluate the evolution of droplet features such as the spreading diameter when the droplet is squeezed over the hot surface. On the other hand, thermal parameters, such as the thickness of the vapour cushion beneath the droplet, are determined from an energy balance. In the short term, this model will be integrated in a CFD code (named NEPTUNE_CFD) to simulate the cooling of a reactor core during a LOCA, taking into account the droplet/wall heat exchange.

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Nathalie Seiler, the thesis supervisor


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