Development, validation and application of an effective convectivity model for simulation of melt pool heat transfer in a light water reactor lower head

by Tran, Chi Thanh

Abstract (Summary)
Severe accidents in a Light Water Reactor (LWR) have been a subject of the research for the last three decades. The research in this area aims to further understanding of the inherent physical phenomena and reduce the uncertainties surrounding their quantification, with the ultimate goal of developing models that can be applied to safety analysis of nuclear reactors. The research is also focusing on evaluation of the proposed accident management schemes for mitigating the consequences of such accidents.During a hypothetical severe accident, whatever the scenario, there is likelihood that the core material will be relocated and accumulated in the lower plenum in the form of a debris bed or a melt pool. Physical phenomena involved in a severe accident progression are complex. The interactions of core debris or melt with the reactor structures depend very much on the debris bed or melt pool thermal hydraulics. That is why predictions of heat transfer during melt pool formation in the reactor lower head are important for the safety assessment.The main purpose of the present study is to advance a method for describing turbulent natural convection heat transfer of a melt pool, and to develop a computational platform for cost-effective, sufficiently-accurate numerical simulations and analyses of Core Melt-Structure-Water Interactions in the LWR lower head during a postulated severe core-melting accident.Given the insights gained from Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) simulations, a physics-based model and computationally-efficient tools are developed for multi-dimensional simulations of transient thermal-hydraulic phenomena in the lower plenum of a Boiling Water Reactor (BWR) during the late phase of an in-vessel core melt progression. A model is developed for the core debris bed heat up and formation of a melt pool in the lower head of the reactor vessel, and implemented in a commercial CFD code. To describe the natural convection heat transfer inside the volumetrically decay-heated melt pool, we advanced the Effective Convectivity Conductivity Model (ECCM), which was previously developed and implemented in the MVITA code. In the present study, natural convection heat transfer is accounted for by only the Effective Convectivity Model (ECM). The heat transport and interactions are represented through an energy-conservation formulation. The ECM then enables simulations of heat transfer of a high Rayleigh melt pool in 3D large dimension geometry.In order to describe the phase-change heat transfer associated with core debris, a temperature-based enthalpy formulation is employed in the ECM (the phase-change ECM or so called the PECM). The PECM is capable to represent possible convection heat transfer in a mushy zone. The simple approach of the PECM method allows implementing different models of the fluid velocity in a mushy zone for a non-eutectic mixture. The developed models are validated by a dual approach, i.e., against the existing experimental data and the CFD simulation results.The ECM and PECM methods are applied to predict thermal loads to the vessel wall and Control Rod Guide Tubes (CRGTs) during core debris heat up and melting in the BWR lower plenum. Applying the ECM and PECM to simulations of reactor-scale melt pool heat transfer, the results of the ECM and PECM calculations show an apparent effectiveness of the developed methods that enables simulations of long term accident transients. It is also found that during severe accident progression, the cooling by water flowing inside the CRGTs plays a very important role in reducing the thermal load on the reactor vessel wall. The results of the CFD, ECM and PECM simulations suggest a potential of the CRGT cooling as an effective mitigative measure during a severe accident progression.
Bibliographical Information:


School:Kungliga Tekniska högskolan

School Location:Sweden

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:NATURAL SCIENCES; Physics; Other physics; light water reactor; hypothetical severe accident; accident progression; accident scenario; core melt pool; heat transfer; turbulent natural convection; heat transfer coefficient; phase change; mushy zone; crust; lower plenum; analytical model; effective convectivity model; CFD simulation.


Date of Publication:01/01/2007

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