Development of an Improved Thermal-Hydraulic Modeling of the Jules Horowitz Reactor
Abstract: The newest European high performance material testing reactor, the Jules Horowitz Reactor, is under construction at CEA Cadarache research center in France. The reactor will support existing and future nuclear reactor technologies, with the first criticality expected at the end of this decade.The current/reference CEA methodology for simulating the thermalhydraulic behavior of the reactor gives reliable results. The CATHARE2 code simulates the full reactor circuit with a simplified approach for the core. The results of this model are used as boundary conditions in a three-dimensional FLICA4 core simulation. However this procedure needs further improvement and simplification to shorten the computational requirements and give more accurate core level data. The reactor’s high performance (e.g. high neutron fluxes, high power densities) and its design (e.g. narrow flow channels in the core) render the reactor modeling challenging compared to more conventional designs. It is possible via thermal-hydraulic or solely hydraulic Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) simulations to achieve a better insight of the flow and thermal aspects of the reactor’s performance. This approach is utilized to assess the initial modeling assumptions and to detect if more accurate modeling is necessary. There were no CFD thermal-hydraulic publications available on the JHR prior to the current PhD thesis project.The improvement process is split into five steps. In the first step, the state-of-the-art CEA methodology for thermal-hydraulic modeling of the reactor using the system code CATHARE2 and the core analysis code FLICA4 is described. In the second and third steps, a CFD thermal-hydraulic simulations of the reactor’s hot fuel element are undertaken with the code STAR-CCM+. Moreover, a conjugate heat transfer analysis is performed for the hot channel. The knowledge of the flow and temperature fields between different channels is important for performing safety analyses and for accurate modeling. In the fourth step, the flow field of the full reactor vessel is investigated by conducting CFD hydraulic simulations in order to identify the mass flow split between the 36 fuel elements and to describe the flow field in the upper and lower plenums. As a side study a thermal-hydraulic calculation, similar to those performed in previous steps is undertaken utilizing the outcome of the hydraulic calculation as an input. The final step culminates by producing an improved, more realistic, purely CATHARE2 based, JHR model, incorporating all the new knowledge acquired from the previous steps.The primary outcome of this four year PhD research project is the improved, more realistic, CATHARE2 model of the JHR with two approaches for the hot fuel element. Furthermore, the project has led to improved thermal-hydraulic knowledge of the complex reactor (including the hot fuel element), with the most prominent findings presented.
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