In the last years, there has been a rapid growth of research and development activities on high temperature molten salts for nuclear and non-nuclear applications. The study of their heat transfer characteristics is a key issue in the current development of the molten salt reactor (MSR) that is one of the innovative nuclear reactors proposed by the Generation IV International Forum. The MSR is a sort of circulating fuel reactor (CFR), which adopts a molten halide salt mixture containing the fissile material and playing the distinctive role of both fuel and coolant. In a thermal-neutron-spectrum MSR, the reactor core is composed by a graphite matrix (neutron moderator), through which the liquid nuclear fuel flows and leads to a strong and intrinsic coupling between thermo-hydrodynamics and neutronics. This peculiar feature requires a suitable and qualified multi-physics simulation environment for a proper description of the system (fuel/coolant+graphite) behaviour. With reference to such complex and non-linear system, the present work is intended to give two different but linked contributions, in the perspective of a multi-physics modelling able to accurately describe the synergy of the involved different physical phenomena (e.g., by means of COMSOL Multiphysics® software). I. On one hand, this work is aimed at establishing a useful validation framework for the assessment of computational fluid-dynamics (CFD) analyses of liquids with internal heat generation. For this purpose, an analytic approach for both fluid velocity and temperature fields in a circular pipe surrounded by a solid region has been developed. It is an extension of the approach elaborated for pipe flow in (Di Marcello, V., Cammi, A., Luzzi, L., 2010. A generalized approach to heat transfer in pipe flow with internal heat generation. Chemical Engineering Science 65, 1301-1310), in order to take into account the heat conduction in the solid domain (represented by the graphite matrix in the specific case of interest). II. On the other hand, the paper presents a preliminary investigation of the thermal-hydraulic behaviour occurring in a typical graphite-moderated MSR core channel. The developed analytic approach has been conveniently applied to this case study: (i) by testing the capabilities of COMSOL Multiphysics® to evaluate the heat transfer characteristics and the hydrodynamic behaviour of such system; and (ii) by investigating the applicability of correlations for the Nusselt number to fluids with internal heat generation. For a deeper insight into the numerical solutions provided by COMSOL, a code-to-code comparison has been also carried out, adopting a dedicated CFD finite volume software (i.e., FLUENT®). As a result, a satisfactory agreement has been found between the analytic solution and the numerical computations provided by COMSOL and FLUENT for a wide range of Reynolds numbers. As concerns the Nusselt number evaluation, the correlations usually adopted for molten salts have been proved as unsuitable for the analysed system, whereas the correlation advanced in the above mentioned paper (that explicitly takes account of the internal heat source) appears more appropriate. The results of the present work are thought to be useful because they provide: i) a "generalized" analytic approach to the heat transfer that is applicable in a more general context; ii) an insight into the heat transfer characteristics of the considered graphite-moderated MSR core channel; and iii) a preliminary assessment of computations that is essential in view of the adoption of multi-physics tools (like COMSOL) for more complex and representative simulations of the dynamic behaviour of the molten salt reactor, and more in general of other kinds of CFRs.

An Approach for the Modelling and the Analysis of the MSR Thermo-Hydrodynamic Behaviour

LUZZI, LELIO;CAMMI, ANTONIO;DI MARCELLO, VALENTINO;FIORINA, CARLO
2010

Abstract

In the last years, there has been a rapid growth of research and development activities on high temperature molten salts for nuclear and non-nuclear applications. The study of their heat transfer characteristics is a key issue in the current development of the molten salt reactor (MSR) that is one of the innovative nuclear reactors proposed by the Generation IV International Forum. The MSR is a sort of circulating fuel reactor (CFR), which adopts a molten halide salt mixture containing the fissile material and playing the distinctive role of both fuel and coolant. In a thermal-neutron-spectrum MSR, the reactor core is composed by a graphite matrix (neutron moderator), through which the liquid nuclear fuel flows and leads to a strong and intrinsic coupling between thermo-hydrodynamics and neutronics. This peculiar feature requires a suitable and qualified multi-physics simulation environment for a proper description of the system (fuel/coolant+graphite) behaviour. With reference to such complex and non-linear system, the present work is intended to give two different but linked contributions, in the perspective of a multi-physics modelling able to accurately describe the synergy of the involved different physical phenomena (e.g., by means of COMSOL Multiphysics® software). I. On one hand, this work is aimed at establishing a useful validation framework for the assessment of computational fluid-dynamics (CFD) analyses of liquids with internal heat generation. For this purpose, an analytic approach for both fluid velocity and temperature fields in a circular pipe surrounded by a solid region has been developed. It is an extension of the approach elaborated for pipe flow in (Di Marcello, V., Cammi, A., Luzzi, L., 2010. A generalized approach to heat transfer in pipe flow with internal heat generation. Chemical Engineering Science 65, 1301-1310), in order to take into account the heat conduction in the solid domain (represented by the graphite matrix in the specific case of interest). II. On the other hand, the paper presents a preliminary investigation of the thermal-hydraulic behaviour occurring in a typical graphite-moderated MSR core channel. The developed analytic approach has been conveniently applied to this case study: (i) by testing the capabilities of COMSOL Multiphysics® to evaluate the heat transfer characteristics and the hydrodynamic behaviour of such system; and (ii) by investigating the applicability of correlations for the Nusselt number to fluids with internal heat generation. For a deeper insight into the numerical solutions provided by COMSOL, a code-to-code comparison has been also carried out, adopting a dedicated CFD finite volume software (i.e., FLUENT®). As a result, a satisfactory agreement has been found between the analytic solution and the numerical computations provided by COMSOL and FLUENT for a wide range of Reynolds numbers. As concerns the Nusselt number evaluation, the correlations usually adopted for molten salts have been proved as unsuitable for the analysed system, whereas the correlation advanced in the above mentioned paper (that explicitly takes account of the internal heat source) appears more appropriate. The results of the present work are thought to be useful because they provide: i) a "generalized" analytic approach to the heat transfer that is applicable in a more general context; ii) an insight into the heat transfer characteristics of the considered graphite-moderated MSR core channel; and iii) a preliminary assessment of computations that is essential in view of the adoption of multi-physics tools (like COMSOL) for more complex and representative simulations of the dynamic behaviour of the molten salt reactor, and more in general of other kinds of CFRs.
Heat transfer; Turbulence; Internally heat generating fluid; Circulating fuel reactor; Molten salt reactor; Computational fluid dynamics.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11311/571099
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