Although no one would like to see, a severe nuclear reactor accident may result in reactor core melting, the fuel melt dropping into water in the reactor vessel, and then interacting with coolant into steam explosion. Steam explosion is a result of very rapid and intense heat transfer and violent interaction between the high temperature melt and low temperature coolant. The timescale for heat transfer is shorter than that for pressure relief, resulting in the formation of shock waves and/or the production of missiles at a later time during the expansion of coolant steam explosion. Steam explosion may endanger the reactor vessel and surrounding structures. During a severe reactor accident scenario, steam explosion is an important risk, even though its probability to occur is pretty low, since it could lead to large releases of radioactive material, and destroy the containment integrity. This study provides a comprehensive review of vapor explosion experiments, especially the most recent ones. In this review, fist, small to intermediate scale experiments related to premixing, triggering and propagation stages are reviewed and summarized in tables. Then the intermediate to large scale experiments using prototypic melt are reviewed and summarized. The recent OECD/SERENA2 project including KROTOS and TROI facilities’ work is also discussed. The studies on steam explosion are vital for reactor severe accident management, and will lead to improved reactor safety.

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