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Study of the initiation and the escalade phases of a vapour explosion

Julien LAMOME, doctorate thesis of the University of Grenoble I, Ecole Doctorale: Mécanique et Energétique, 249 p, thesis vivo on the 7th of September 2007

Document type > *Mémoire/HDR/Thesis

Keywords > vapour explosion, relative humidity, Rayleigh’s equations

Research Unit > IRSN/DSR/SAGR

Authors > LAMOME Julien

Publication Date > 07/09/2007


The steam explosion triggering issue is discussed here by studying at the thermal fragmentation (small pressure perturbation) of a hot water droplet surrounded by a stable steam film. Fragmentation seems to be the consequence of local contacts between the droplet and the coolant. However, the exact mechanism altering the droplet following the above mentioned contacts is uncertain. After a study of the proportions in place, we realized a contact can fragment the droplet in a very short period of time. Therefore, we adopted an approach considering the contact as the explosion criteria. In order to validate this approach, we researched the explosion levels of the experimental variations based on the surrounding pressure and on the
coolant’s temperature. The model found again the experimental variations, the levels were found again with some uncertainty. The contact is obtained by 2 mechanisms inducing liquid’s proximity: a steam film global compression due to the disturbance and the amplification of the interface defaults between the coolant and the steam. It appears it is the mechanism of global compression that explains mostly the experimental variations. Following these results, we conducted model’s extrapolations in order to come as close as possible of the conditions in which steam explosion can occur on an industrial scale (i.e. in the water pressured nuclear reactors).


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