External cooling of a light water reactor vessel by flooding of the concrete cavity with subcooled water is one of several management strategies currently being considered for accidents in which significant relocation of core material is predicted to occur. At present, uncertainty exists with respect to natural convection heat transfer coefficients between the pool of molten core material and the reactor vessel wall. In the present work, experiments were conducted to examine natural convection heat transfer in internally heated partially filled spherical pools with external cooling. In the experiments, Freon-113 was contained in a Pyrex bell jar, which was cooled externally with subcooled water. The pool was heated using a 750 W magnetron taken from a conventional microwave. The pool had a nearly adiabatic free surface. The vessel wall temperature was not uniform and varied from the stagnation point to the free surface. A series of chromel–alumel thermocouples was used to measure temperatures in both steady-state and transient conditions. Each thermocouple was placed in a specific vertical and radial location in order to determine the temperature distribution throughout the pool and along the inner and outer walls of the vessel. In the experiments, pool depth and radius were varied parametrically. Both local and averages heat transfer coefficients based on pool maximum temperature were obtained. Rayleigh numbers based on pool height were varied from 2 × 1010 to 1.1 × 1014. Correlations for the local heat transfer coefficient dependence on pool angle and for the dependence of average Nusselt number on Rayleigh number and pool depth have been developed.

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