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Evaluation of Passive Containment Cooling with an Advanced Water Film Model in a Lumped-Parameter Code

Xi Huang, Xu Cheng, Walter Klein-Heßling

Nuclear Technology / Volume 196 / Number 2 / November 2016 / Pages 248-259

Technical Paper /

First Online Publication:September 21, 2016
Updated:November 2, 2016

Falling water films have been employed for passive containment cooling in several Generation III pressurized water reactor designs. In this paper, the lumped-parameter (L-P) containment code system COCOSYS with an advanced water film model is applied to evaluate the performance of a passive containment cooling system (PCCS) during accidents. Based on the recent work and with further modification, an integrated water film model is developed. The new model considers different flow regimes of a liquid film as it flows downward and is being evaporated. The integrated model has been adapted to the L-P code and then implemented into COCOSYS. The new model enables the containment code to capture previously neglected phenomena, including the behavior of film breakup due to the reduction in mass; the formation of rivulets; the change in coverage rate and the development of rivulets; the change of velocity distribution as well as film thickness by considering the interfacial shear stress created by countercurrent air on the film surface; the hysteresis of rivulets, i.e., the process of advancing or retreating, involving changes in contact angles; and the influence of waves on the film surface.

The new model is validated against existing test results and experimental observations in the authors’ recent work and is further modified in this paper taking into account the influence of waves and the processes of rivulet hysteresis. The model is then assessed based on test nodalization, and the expected phenomena are observed. Afterward, the new model is applied to evaluate the performance of PCCS film cooling employed in the AP1000 containment.

It is concluded that the original film model tends to underestimate the pressure loads due to the absence of film breakup, rivulet behavior, and shear stress models. The coverage rate, as a new factor captured in the new model, limits the evaporation rate and thus restricts the cooling efficiency of the falling film. The sensitivity analysis reveals that the contact angle and hysteresis phenomenon, which were not previously considered in the code, play significant roles in PCCS film cooling. The advancing contact angle of the rivulets is a decisive factor for the peak pressure, while the retreating contact angle is influential in the later phase of cooling. It can be inferred from the study that the ideal situation for PCCS cooling is that in which the water film is approaching complete dryout at the bottom of the containment. The newly developed liquid film model helps improve the accuracy and reliability of the simulation results.