Author(s): Lind T, Ammar Y, Dehbi A, Guntay S
Abstract: A steam generator tube rupture (SGTR) in a pressurized water reactor (PWR) might be a major source of accidental release of radioactive aerosols into the environment during severe accident due to its potential to by-pass the reactor containment. In the ARTIST program, tests were carried out at flow conditions typical to SGTR events to determine the retention of dry aerosol particles inside a steam generator tube. The experiments with TiO2 agglomerates showed that for high velocities in the range of 100–350 m/s, the average particle size at the outlet of the tube was significantly smaller than at the inlet due to particle de-agglomeration. Earlier, particle de-agglomeration has not been considered significant in nuclear reactor severe accidents. However, the tests in ARTIST program have shown that there is a possibility that TiO2 aerosol particles de-agglomerate inside a tube and in the expansion zone after the tube exit under SGTR conditions. In this investigation, we measured TiO2 aerosol de-agglomeration in the tube with very high flow velocities with two different TiO2 aerosols. The de-agglomeration was determined by measuring the size of the agglomerates at the inlet and outlet of the test section. The test section was composed of tubes with three different lengths, 0.20, 2.0 and 4.0 m, followed by an expansion zone. The main results were: (i) the de-agglomerate process was relatively insensitive to the initial particle size distribution, (ii) the agglomerates were observed to de-agglomerate in all the tubes, and the resulting particle size distributions were similar for both TiO2 aerosols, (iii) at high flow rates, increasing the gas mass flow rate did not produce further de-agglomeration, and (iv) the agglomerates did not de-agglomerate to primary particles. Instead, after de-agglomeration the particles had a median outer diameter Dc = 1.1 μm. Based on analysis using computational fluid dynamics (CFDs), the de-agglomeration was caused by the turbulent shear stresses due to the fluid velocity difference across the agglomerates in the viscous subrange of turbulence. It has to be noted that the particles used in this investigation were TiO2 agglomerates, and not prototypical nuclear aerosols with significantly different characteristics. Therefore, the results of this investigation cannot be directly used to determine whether the nuclear aerosol particles may de-agglomerate in SGTR sequences. However, this investigation highlights the possibility of particle de-agglomeration under SGTR conditions, and identifies the mechanism of the de-agglomeration inside the broken tube and when the aerosol is discharged to an open space.