A primary pipe rupture accident is one of the design-basis accidents of a Very-High-Temperature Reactor (VHTR). When a primary pipe rupture 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 pipe rupture accident, it is important to develop a method for the prevention of air ingress during an accident.

We carried out experiments to obtain the mixing process of two-component gases and 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. An experiment has been carried out to investigate a control method of natural circulation of air by injection of helium gas. The experimental apparatus consists of a reverse U-sharped vertical slot and a storage tank. One side-slot consists of the heated and cooled walls. The other side-slot consists of the two cooled walls. The dimensions of the vertical slots are 598 mm in height, 208 mm in depth, and 70 mm in width. Each two vertical slots were connected and were a reverse U-shaped passage. The dimensions of the connecting passage were 16 mm in height, 106 mm in depth, and 210 mm in length. The storage tank was connected to the lower part of the reverse U-shaped passage. The dimensions of the storage tank were 398 mm in length, 398 mm in depth, and 548 mm in width. The reverse U-shaped passage and the storage tank were separated by a partition plate. The wall and gas temperature were measured by a K-type thermocouple.

Experimental results regarding mixing process of two component gases in vertical fluid layer were as follows. The heavy gas was transported to the slot by the molecular diffusion and natural convection. As time elapses, natural circulation of heavy gas suddenly occurs through the reverse U-shaped slot. As a result of experiments, the onset time of natural circulation is affected by not only molecular diffusion coefficient but also the strength of natural convection. When the helium gas is injected into the channel, it is possible to control the natural circulation of air. The onset time of the reproduction of the natural circulation can be varied by changing the injection rate of the helium gas.

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