One proposed concept for the STAR-LM Lead Fast Reactor (LFR) incorporates a supercritical CO2 gas turbine Brayton cycle to achieve high cycle efficiency and reduced plant footprint. In this design, 100+% of core full power is transferred by natural circulation from the core, located at the bottom of the reactor vessel, to in-vessel heat exchangers (HXs) located at the top of the vessel in the annulus between the core shroud and vessel inner wall. Although this approach extremely simplifies the plant design, the presence of the HX’s within the vessel raises concerns regarding the potential rupture of a HX tube that would initiate a high-pressure blowdown of CO2 into the lead coolant. The principal issue is to what extent, if any, is void entrained downwards with the coolant and then upwards through the core where adverse reactivity effects or degraded heat removal could result. To address this question, a scoping analysis of transient void formation during a guillotine-type HX tube rupture event in the STAR-LM employing a supercritical CO2 Brayton cycle has been performed. The void formation process is evaluated by solving a coupled set of ordinary differential equations describing: i) the supercritical CO2 blowdown, ii) bubble center-of-mass trajectory, iii) bubble growth rate, iv) bubble gas internal energy, and v) discrete bubble formation rate due to Taylor instability at the bubble/coolant interface. The results indicate that for thermal hydraulic conditions consistent with the current STAR-LM design, the peak blowdown rate from a single tube rupture is ∼ 2.5 kg/sec. The void formation process is dominated by large coherent gas bubbles that penetrate minimally downwards into the coolant due to the large coolant density. Rather, the gas pockets are predicted to periodically rise due to buoyancy and vent to the core cover gas region, as opposed to being swept downwards with the coolant. Moreover, the total CO2 fraction that is rendered in the form of discrete bubbles during blowdown is found to be small (∼ 3%), and the bubbles are of fairly large diameter (≥ 0.7 cm). Thus, these discrete bubbles are also calculated to benignly rise to the cover gas region since the terminal rise velocity for the bubbles exceeds the average lead coolant down flow velocity below the HX.

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