Letter | Published:

Detonation of fuel coolant explosions

Naturevolume 254pages319321 (1975) | Download Citation



IN certain circumstances the mixing of a hot liquid and a cooler, vaporisable one leads to an explosive rate of vapour production. Such explosions have occured in foundries when molten metals and water mix1, and when liquid natural gas is spilt on to water2; they may also occur in liquid-cooled nuclear reactors under accident conditions. It seems likely3,4 that in these events an initial disturbance causes motions which fragment some of the material and so allow rapid heat transfer; this produces explosive expansion and further fragmentation, and so the reaction propagates through the medium. We give here a simple one-dimensional model of a system in which the two liquids are initially coarsely mixed, and show that there is the possibility of an extremely violent thermal explosion, the structure of which is analogous to that of a detonating chemical explosion.

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    Board, S. J., and Hall, R. W. in Moving Boundary Problems in Heat Flow and Diffuson (edit. by Ockendon, J. R., and Hodgkins, W. R.), 259–269 (Oxford Univ. Press, 1975).

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    Rao, C. S., Sichel, M., Nicholls, J. A., Combust. Sci. Technol., 4, 209–220 (1972).

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    Board, S. J., Hall, R. W., and Brown, G. E., Report RD/B/N3007 (CEGB, 1974).

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  1. Central Electricity Generating Board, Berkeley Nuclear Laboratories, Berkeley, Gloucestershire, GL13 9PB, UK

    • S. J. BOARD
    • , R. W. HALL
    •  & R. S. HALL


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