Date of Award

1-1-2013

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Department

Nuclear Engineering

First Advisor

Travis W Knight

Abstract

A computational fluid dynamics code is used to model the primary natural circulation loop of a proposed small modular reactor for comparison to experimental data and best-estimate thermal-hydraulic code results. Recent advances in computational fluid dynamics code modeling capabilities make them attractive alternatives to the current conservative approach of coupled best-estimate thermal hydraulic codes and uncertainty evaluations. The results from a computational fluid dynamics analysis are benchmarked against the experimental test results of a 1:3 length, 1:254 volume, full pressure and full temperature scale small modular reactor during steady-state power operations and during a depressurization transient. A comparative evaluation of the experimental data, the thermal hydraulic code results and the computational fluid dynamics code results provides an opportunity to validate the best-estimate thermal hydraulic code's treatment of a natural circulation loop and provide insights into expanded use of the computational fluid dynamics code in future designs and operations. Additionally, a sensitivity analysis is conducted to determine those physical phenomena most impactful on operations of the proposed reactor's natural circulation loop. The combination of the comparative evaluation and sensitivity analysis provides the resources for increased confidence in model developments for natural circulation loops and provides for reliability improvements of the thermal hydraulic code.

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