A depressurization accident is the one of the design-basis accidents of a Very-High-Temperature Reactor (VHTR). When a depressurization accident occurs, air is expected to enter into the reactor pressure vessel from the breach and oxidize in-core graphite structures. Therefore, it is important to understand the mixing processes of different kinds of gases in the stable and unstable stratified fluid layers. In particular, it is also important to examine the influence of localized natural convection and molecular diffusion on the mixing process from a safety viewpoint. Therefore, in order to predict or analyze the air ingress phenomena during a depressurization accident, it is important to develop a method for the prevention of air ingress during an accident. We carried out experiments and numerical analysis using three-dimensional (3D) CFD code to obtain the mixing process of two-component gases and the flow characteristics of localized natural convection. This study also investigated a control method for the natural circulation of air through the injection of helium gas.
The numerical model consists of a storage tank and a reverse U-shaped vertical rectangular passage. They are separated by a horizontal partition plate. One sidewall of the high-temperature side vertical passage is heated and the other sidewall is cooled. The low-temperature vertical passage is cooled by ambient air. The storage tank is filled with heavy gas and the reverse U-shaped vertical passage is filled with a light gas. In the vertical passage of the high-temperature side, localized natural convection is generated by the temperature difference between the vertical walls. The results obtained from the experiments were quantitatively simulated using 3D numerical analysis. The two component gases were mixed via molecular diffusion and natural convection. After some time elapsed, natural circulation occurred through the reverse U-shaped vertical passage. These flow characteristics are the same as those of phenomena generated in the passage between a permanent reflector and a pressure vessel wall of the VHTR.