Enhanced safety is an important priority in the development of Generation IV reactors, which can be accomplished through the use of improved passive heat removal systems. In CANDU® reactors, the separation between the low-pressure moderator and high-pressure coolant provides a unique passive heat sink for decay heat removal during accident scenarios. Methods for enhancing this passive heat sink for the GenIV CANDU-SCWR (supercritical water cooled reactor) have been under investigation for the past several years to support a “no core melt” reactor design concept (1, 2). Initially, to test feasibility, tests and analysis at AECL studied a full-height passive cooling loop and showed that a flashing-driven natural circulation system was possible in principle. However, flow oscillations were observed at low powers and could not be readily explained through analysis. While these oscillations were not considered to be detrimental to the heat removal capability, additional separate-effects experiments were conducted and causal mechanisms proposed for the oscillations. In addition, these separate effects tests suggested that oscillations could be avoided at any power level by suitable design. A new test loop with a more representative geometry was recently constructed and commissioned. Preliminary commissioning tests confirmed conclusions from the separate effects tests. In this paper, the new tests are compared to the past tests to explain the improved and more stable loop operation. This comparison suggests that a complete system coupled to an ultimate heat sink has the potential to improve loop operation even more by eliminating or significantly reducing flow oscillations at low powers. Plans for validating this conclusion will be provided.

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