Mechanical engineering note - safety analysis of molten uranium/water interaction in the uranium foundry furnace Page: 60 of 84
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more energetic and has a stronger shock wave than those generated by steam
3.1.6 Metal-Water Reactions During Elosive Interactions
One experiment has been performed in which the high temperature melt
dropped into water contained highly reactive metals and measurements were
made with respect to the extent of hydrogen formation (Wang, et al., 1989).
In these experiments, a thermite fixture representing the fuel material
from a light water reactor was dropped into water. As part of the mixture,
highly reactive chromium was included and measurements of the subsequent
hydrogen formed during the quenching process were made. The experiments
typically showed that when the melt was dropped into water, a few percent,
perhaps -as much as 5%, of the metal was oxidized. This gives a demonstra-
tion of the competitive processes between quenching of the high temperature
melt and the exothermic oxidation process ongoing at the same time.
3.2 Hydrogen Burns
Numerous experiments have been performed to establish the combustion
limits of hydrogen as a function of hydrogen concentration. The generally
accepted lower flammability limit for upward flame propagation in air is 4%
by volume hydrogen. Horizontal flame propagation can take place with about
6% by volume hydrogen and downward propagation takes place at about 8% by
volume hydrogen. The dominant governing process that controls burn com-
pleteness in a quiescent environment near the flammability limits is
buoyancy-driven flame propagation. If a mixture containing 48 by volume
hydrogen is ignited, the flame propagates upward due to buoyancy and an
incomplete burn will result unless there is another mechanism for flame
propagation. If a mixture is capable of local ignition, preignition tur-
bulence results in more extensive flame propagation and larger burn
completeness. Combustion limits have also been shown by experiment to be a
function of inert gas concentration. One such study (Benedick, et al.,
1984) provided a demonstration of the inerting capabilities of carbon
dioxide, the results for these experiments performed in the VGES test
vessel at Sandia are illustrated in Figure 3-8, which is taken from
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Gourdin, W H & Sze, J. Mechanical engineering note - safety analysis of molten uranium/water interaction in the uranium foundry furnace, report, August 19, 1999; California. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc622935/m1/60/: accessed December 14, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.