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Fuel-Coolant Interactions: Visualization and Mixing Measurements

Eric P. Loewen, Riccardo Bonazza, Michael L. Corradini, Robert E. Johannesen

Nuclear Technology

Volume 139 / Number 2 / August 2002 / Pages 127-144


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Dynamic X-ray imaging of fuel-coolant interactions (FCI), including quantitative measurement of fuel-coolant volume fractions and length scales, has been accomplished with a novel imaging system at the Nuclear Safety Research Center at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. The imaging system consists of visible-light high-speed digital video, low-energy X-ray digital imaging, and high-energy X-ray digital imaging subsystems. The data provide information concerning the melt jet velocity, melt jet configuration, melt volume fractions, void fractions, and spatial and temporal quantification of premixing length scales for a model fuel-coolant system of molten lead poured into a water pool (fuel temperatures 500 to 1000 K; jet diameters 10 to 30 mm; coolant temperatures 20 to 90°C). Overall results indicate that the FCI has three general regions of behavior, with the high fuel-coolant temperature region similar to what might be expected under severe accident conditions. It was observed that the melt jet leading edge has the highest void fraction and readily fragments into discrete masses, which then subsequently subdivide into smaller masses of length scales <10 mm. The intact jet penetrates <3 to 5 jet length/jet diameter before this breakup occurs into discrete masses, which continue to subdivide. Hydrodynamic instabilities can be visually identified at the leading edge and along the jet column with an interfacial region that consists of melt, vapor, and water. This interface region was observed to grow in size as the water pool temperature was increased, indicating mixing enhancement by boiling processes.

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