For mitigation of severe accident with core melting, core-catcher has been developed to catch and cool molten core. The core-catcher developed by Toshiba for Advanced Boiling Water Reactor was designed to be installed under Reactor Pressure Vessel (RPV) and catch molten core in basin with thermal-resistant material. It also has structure including risers and downcomers to generate natural circulation flow of cooling water. On the other hand, there is not enough space to install it in the existing plants due to the height of the inclined cooling channels.
Then, we have been developing flat core-catcher with flat cooling channels for the existing plants to reduce total height of the structure. Finned channels will be adopted to increase heat transfer rate by increasing heat transfer area. However, the thermal-hydraulics characteristics of such core-catcher has not been clarified due to the specific configuration, that is, the horizontal rectangular finned channel with the heated surface from upper side.
This present study investigated the natural circulation characteristics and heat transfer behavior in the horizontal rectangular finned channel by experiment. Pressure drop, natural circulation flow and temperature were measured by changing heat fluxes. The flow was visualized to obtain flow pattern in the finned channel by a high-speed camera. The maximum value of test range of heat flux was 250 kW/m2, which is the value when the total amount of the molten core would be dropped to the core-catcher. The partial simulated test section of finned channel with 3.5 m length was heated from upper side by heaters to simulate the heat flux from the molten core. This length is the same as the inner diameter of RPV pedestal of the existing plants.
The natural circulation mass flux increased as the heat flux increased and then two-phase flow pressure loss also increased. Consequently, circulation flow turned to decrease. As a result of the test, when the heat flux was 50 kW/m2, the circulation mass flux got to the maximum value, 230 kg/m2s. Under all the conditions except for the maximum heat flux of 250 kW/m2, the fin surface temperature was around the saturated temperature. At maximum heat flux 250 kW/m2, the temperature got 540 K. However, the structural soundness was maintained because it is lower than melting temperature of the fin. It can be concluded that the flat and high-thermal-conductivity core-catcher has enough cooling performance to catch and stabilize the molten core.