Within the framework of the nuclear power plant lifetime issue, the assessment of the French 900 MWe (3-loops) series Reactor Pressure Vessel (RPV) integrity was performed. A simplified analysis has shown that one of the most severe loading condition is given by the small break loss of coolant accidents (SBLOCA) due to the pressurized injection of cold water (9°C) into the cold leg and down comer of the RPV. Two main physical phenomena, considered important for the RPV cooling transient, were identified during numerical application obtained with EDF CFD tools. These phenomena are the fluid flow separation and the plume oscillations in the down comer. In order to consolidate these numerical results with the EDF home code, called Code_Saturne, an experimental study has been carried out with the new EDF R&D facility. This transparent experimental model is based on the representation at 1/2 scale of a cold leg and a third of down comer including a thermal shield. The experiments were realized by injecting of salt water flow (density effects) in the cold leg according to a similitude study based on Froude number conservation between experiments and reactor scenarios. Firstly, this paper presents the main qualitative experimental results, based essentially on visualizations of different injections of dyed salt water in the cold leg and in the down comer. The physical phenomena observed showed a qualitative good agreement between visualizations and numerical results. Secondly, this paper presents the first experimental results of the assessment of the fluid flow separation in the experimental model obtained with temperature probes inserted in the down comer. We showed, in the experiments analysis, the fluid flow separation and the jet oscillations were detected. The next step will consist to compare these quantitative experiments with numerical study which will be carry out with Code_Saturne.

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