Current Nuclear Power Plants (NPPs) equipped with water-cooled reactors (the vast majority of all NPPs) have relatively low thermal efficiencies within the range of 30–36% compared to those of modern advanced thermal power plants (SuperCritical Pressure (SCP) coal-fired — up to 55% thermal efficiency and combined cycle — up to 62%). Therefore, next generation reactors / NPPs should have higher thermal efficiencies close to those of current thermal power plants.
Around 60 years ago thermal-power industry has moved from subcritical pressures to SCPs with the major objective to increase thermal efficiency. Based on this proven in power industry experience it was proposed to design SuperCritical Water-cooled Reactors (SCWRs), which are one of the six Generation-IV nuclear-reactor concepts under development in selected countries. These days, there are discussions on developing even Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) of SCPs.
In spite of a large number of experiments in long bare tubes (pipes) cooled with SCW, developing SCWR concepts requires experimental data in bundle geometries cooled with SCW, which are usually shorter and will have smaller diameters. However, such experiments are extremely complicated and expensive plus each bundle geometry will have a unique Heat-Transfer (HT) characteristics due to various bundle designs.
Therefore, as a preliminary and a universal approach — experiments in bare tube of shorter heated lengths and of smaller diameters to match heated lengths and hydraulic-equivalent diameters of fuel bundles are required.
Current paper provides experimental data obtained in a short (0.6 m) vertical bare tube of a small diameter (6.28 mm) cooled with upward flow of SCW. Analysis of this dataset is also included. Main emphasis of this research is on liquid-like cooling within the possible conditions of future SCWRs and SCW SMRs. Two HT regimes are encountered at these conditions: 1) Normal HT (NHT) and 2) Deteriorated HT (DHT). Conditions at which the DHT regime appeared are discussed.