The process of two-phase natural circulation flow induced in the annular gap between the reactor vessel and the insulation under external reactor vessel cooling conditions was investigated experimentally and analytically in this study. HERMES-HALF experiments were performed to observe and quantify the induced two-phase natural circulation flow in the annular gap. A half-scaled non-heating experimental facility was designed by utilizing the results of a scaling analysis to simulate the APR1400 reactor and its insulation system. The behavior of the boiling-induced two-phase natural circulation flow in the annular gap was observed, and the liquid mass flow rates driven by the natural circulation loop and the void fraction distribution were measured. Direct flow visualization revealed that choking would occur under certain flow conditions in the minimum gap region near the shear keys. Specifically, large recirculation flows were observed in the minimum gap region for large air injection rates and small outlet areas. Under such conditions, the injected air could not pass through the minimum gap region, resulting in the occurrence of choking near the minimum gap with a periodical air back flow being generated. Therefore, a design modification of the minimum gap region needs to be done to facilitate steam venting and to prevent choking from occurring. To complement the HERMES-HALF experimental effort, an analytical study of the dependence of the induced natural circulation mass flow rate on the inlet area and the volumetric air injection rate was performed using a loop integration of the momentum equation. The loop-integrated momentum equation was formulated in terms of the dimensionless mass flow rate and the area ratio. Asymptotic solutions were obtained for two limiting cases for which the dimensionless mass flow rate was either very large or very small. First-order approximate solution was also obtained and was found to agree with the experimental data within 20% in most situations. The natural circulation mass flow rate was found to increase as the water inlet area and the volumetric air injection rate were increased. For large inlet areas, the mass flow rate was found to depend almost linearly on the inlet area. By adjusting the inlet and outlet areas of the insulation in HERMES-HALF experiments, a natural circulation flow rate could be generated up to 200 kg/s, corresponding to about 1.3-1.5 MW/m2 critical heat flux at the top of the reactor lower head (90°) according to the data of KAIST and SULTAN.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Nuclear and High Energy Physics
- Nuclear Energy and Engineering
- General Materials Science
- Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
- Waste Management and Disposal
- Mechanical Engineering