Fluid Flow Instability flow oscillations, flow reversals Review

Fluid Flow Instability flow oscillations, flow reversals Review

Unstable flow can occur in the form of flow oscillations or flow reversals. Flow oscillations are variations in flow due to void formations or mechanical obstructions from design andmanufacturing. A flow oscillation in one reactor coolant channel sometimes causes flowoscillations in the surrounding coolant channels due to flow redistribution. Flow oscillations areundesirable for several reasons. First, sustained flow oscillations can cause undesirable forcedmechanical vibration of components. This can lead to failure of those components due to fatigue.Second, flow oscillations can cause system control problems of particular importance in liquidcoolednuclear reactors because the coolant is also used as the moderator. Third, flowoscillations affect the local heat transfer characteristics and boiling. It has been found throughtesting that the critical heat flux (CHF) required for departure from nucleate boiling (DNB) canbe lowered by as much as 40% when flow is oscillating. This severely reduces the thermal limitand the power density along the length of the reactor core. Again, it has been found throughtesting that flow oscillations are not a significant problem for some pressurized water reactorsunless power is above 150% for the normal flow conditions. Flow oscillations can be a problemduring natural circulation operations because of the low flow rates present.

During natural circulation, the steam bubbles formed during a flow oscillation may have enough of an effect to actually cause complete flow reversal in the affected channel.Both the flow oscillations and flow reversals lead to a very unstable condition since the steamblankets formed on heated surfaces directly affect the ability to transfer heat away from those surfaces.

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