INTERNATIONAL ATOMIC ENERGY AGENCY, INTERNATIONAL WORKING GROUP ON FAST REACTORS MEETING OF SPECIALISTS ON SODIUM--WATER REACTIONS, ARGONNE, USA, 5--6 NOVEMBER 1968 Page: 3 of 99
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The literature survey uncovered considerable controversy in regard to
reaction rate limiting steps. On a molecular scale, the rates are on the
order of microseconds, which is considerably faster than turbulent diffusion
or other mixing processes. The latter processes take milliseconds or longer
and may therefore be assumed to be rate limiting for steam generator leaks.
Reaction rates increase as sodium temperatures approach and exceed the
melting and boiling points. For reactions between "cool" (2120F) sodium and
(35-1400F) water, the rates are proportional to the surface area of a sodium
drop. Reactions with higher viscosity water are much more rapid, presumably
due to the lower cooling capability. Inhibitors, such as oil floating on
the water surface, slowed reaction rates greatly.
With the use of coloured motion pictures, several reaction stages could
be identified. A preheating stage preceded ignition. A heating stage was
characterized by a red glow. A deflagration stage was attributed to sodium
boiling. In the presence of oxygen, the deflagration stage is reached at
much lower temperatures by virtue of a sodium dispersion resulting from an
explosive reaction between the hydrogen which is generated in a sodium-water-
reaction and the surrounding oxygen.
MR. FUZUKAWA: The reaction phenoruena between sodium and water will
show wide variations depending on their phane states, temperatures, masses and
mutual contact mode. To get a wider understanding of this reaction for hazard
analysis, about 40 combinations in the reaction conditions were examined
experimentally in air. Among the tests, 23 cases were chosen as more-
interesting ones for presentation in Table I. These were presented, together
with an 8 mm film at the meeting.
The most remarkable conclusions are as follows;
(a) The most violent recdions were observed in the conditions of both
liquid state and higher temperature. 50 g sodium was sputtered
burning to the distance of 7 m.
(b) In the case of contacting solid sodium with water, no explosive
reaction takes place until complete melting of sodium.
(c) In the case of pouring a lot of hot sodium on a small amount of
water, a steam explosion (expansion) occurs which is very dangerous
due to the sputtering of liquid sodium.
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INTERNATIONAL ATOMIC ENERGY AGENCY, INTERNATIONAL WORKING GROUP ON FAST REACTORS MEETING OF SPECIALISTS ON SODIUM--WATER REACTIONS, ARGONNE, USA, 5--6 NOVEMBER 1968, report, October 31, 1970; Illinois. (https://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc870785/m1/3/: accessed March 20, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, https://digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.