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Modeling of Melt Droplet Fragmentation Following Vapor Film Destabilization by a Trigger Pulse

Eric Leclerc, Georges J. Berthoud

Nuclear Technology

Volume 144 / Number 2 / November 2003 / Pages 158-174


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In hypothetical Severe Accident studies for a PWR, a large amount of molten corium may be poured into water. There is then a risk of Steam Explosion. After the premixing sequence in which the melt is more or less dispersed into water, a fine fragmentation process may start, which can lead to an escalation. Such an event is generally triggered by the destabilization of the vapor film surrounding the hot melt droplets. In this paper, an attempt to describe all the successive processes leading to this fine fragmentation is presented.

First, a critical analysis of previous models is performed, allowing us to propose a new sequence of events. As in the previous models, the film destabilization leads to the growth of cold liquid peaks induced by Rayleigh Taylor instability. As these peaks have a smaller density than the drop, they do not penetrate into the hot drop. At the cold liquid-hot liquid contacts, transient heat transfer leads to the explosive boiling of a small amount of coolant. The generated local pressurization deforms the hot melt interface. This can produce fine fragments from the filaments issued from the melt. Some of them may reach the vapor-coolant interface where intense and rapid vaporization occurs. A large bubble then develops, and a new fragmentation sequence may again appear at the bubble collapse. The present model is supported by experimental results.

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