Fluid Flow Rate and Temperature Difference Review

Fluid Flow Rate and Temperature Difference Review

The thermal driving head that causes natural circulation is due to the density change caused by a temperature difference. In general, the greater the temperature difference between the hot and cold areas of fluid, the greater the thermal driving head and the resulting flow rate. However, it is good practice to keep the hot fluid subcooled to prevent a change of phase from occurring. It is possible to have natural circulation take place in two-phase flow, but it is usually more difficult to maintain flow.

Various parameters can be used to indicate or verify natural circulation is occurring. This is dependent on plant type. For instance for a pressurized water reactor (PWR) selected Reactor Coolant System (RCS) parameters that would be used are as follows.

1. RCS DT (THot - TCold) should be 25-80% of the full power value and either steady or slowly decreasing. This indicates that the decay heat is being removed from the system at an adequate rate to maintain or reduce core temperatures.

2. RCS Hot and Cold leg temperatures should be steady or slowly decreasing. Again, this indicates that heat is being removed and the decay heat load is decreasing as expected.

3. Steam generator steam pressure (secondary side pressure) should be following RCS temperature. This verifies that the steam generator is removing heat from the RCS coolant.

If natural circulation for a PWR is in progress or is imminent, several actions can be performed to ensure or enhance core cooling capabilities. First, pressurizer level can be maintained greater than 50%. Secondly, maintain the RCS subcooled by 15oF or greater.

Both of these actions will help ensure steam/vapor pockets are not formed in the RCS where they would restrict RCS flow. Thirdly, maintain steam generator water level normal range. This provides an adequate heat sink to ensure heat removal is sufficient to prevent boiling of the RCS.

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