In order to clarify the mechanism of thermal fragmentation of a molten jet dropped into a sodium pool at instantaneous contact interface temperatures below its freezing point, a basic experiment was carried out using molten copper and sodium. Copper was melted in a crucible with an electrical heater and was dropped through a short nozzle into a sodium pool, in the form of a jet column. Thermal fragmentation originating inside the molten copper jet with a solid crust was clearly observed in all runs. It is verified that a small quantity of sodium, which is locally entrained inside the molten jet due to the organized motion between the molten jet and sodium, is vaporized by the sensible heat and the latent heat of molten copper, and the high internal pressure causes the molten jet with a solid crust to fragment. It is also concluded that the thermal fragmentation is more dominant than the hydrodynamic fragmentation, in the present range of Weber number and superheating of molten jet. Furthermore, it can be explained that the thermal fragmentation caused by the molten copper jet - sodium interaction is severer than that caused by the molten uranium alloy jet - sodium interaction, which was reported by Gabor et al., because the latent heat and the thermal diffusivity of molten copper, which are the physical properties that dominate the degree of fragmentation, are much higher than those of molten uranium alloy jets.

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