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Experimental Investigation of Natural-Circulation Flow Behavior Under Low-Power/Low-Pressure Conditions in the Large-Scale PANDA Facility

Olivier Auban, Domenico Paladino, Robert Zboray

Nuclear Technology / Volume 148 / Number 3 / December 2004 / Pages 294-312

Technical Paper / Thermal Hydraulics /

Twenty-five tests have been carried out in the large-scale thermal-hydraulic facility PANDA to investigate natural-circulation and stability behavior under low-pressure/low-power conditions, when void flashing might play an important role. This work, which extends the current experimental database to a large geometric scale, is of interest notably with regard to the start-up procedures in natural-circulation-cooled boiling water reactors. It should help the understanding of the physical phenomena that may cause flow instability in such conditions and can be used for validation of thermal-hydraulics system codes. The tests were performed at a constant power, balanced by a specific condenser heat removal capacity. The test matrix allowed the reactor pressure vessel power and pressure to be varied, as well as other parameters influencing the natural-circulation flow. The power spectra of flow oscillations showed in a few tests a major and unique resonance peak, and decay ratios between 0.5 and 0.9 have been found. The remainder of the tests showed an even more pronounced stable behavior. A classification of the tests is presented according to the circulation modes (from single-phase to two-phase flow) that could be assumed and particularly to the importance and the localization of the flashing phenomenon.

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