Effective Spatial Mapping for Coupled Code Analysis of Thermal–Hydraulics/Neutron–Kinetics of Boiling Water Reactors

University dissertation from Stockholm : KTH Royal Institute of Technology

Abstract: Analyses of nuclear reactor safety have increasingly required coupling of full three dimensional neutron kinetics (NK) core models with system transient thermal–hydraulics (TH) codes.  In order to produce results within a reasonable computing time, the coupled codes use two different spatial description of the reactor core.  The TH code uses few, typically 5 to 20 TH channels, which represent the core.  The NK code uses explicit one node for each fuel assembly.  Therefore, a spatial mapping of a coarse grid TH and a fine grid NK domain is necessary.  However, improper mappings may result in loss of valuable information, thus causing inaccurate prediction of safety parameters.The purpose of this thesis is to study the effectiveness of spatial coupling (channel refinement and spatial mapping) and develop recommendations for NK/TH mapping in simulation of safety transients.  Additionally, sensitivity of stability (measured by Decay Ratio and Frequency) to the different types of mapping schemes, is analyzed against OECD/NEA Ringhals–1 Stability Benchmark data.The research methodology consists of spatial coupling convergence study, by increasing the number of TH channels and varying mapping approaches, up to and including the reference case.  The reference case consists of one-to-one mapping: one TH channel per one fuel assembly.  The comparisons of the results are done for steady–state and transient results. In this thesis mapping (spatial coupling) definition is formed and all the existing mapping approaches were gathered, analyzed and presented.  Additionally, to increase the efficiency and applicability of spatial mapping convergence, a new mapping methodology has been proposed.  The new mapping approach is based on hierarchical clustering method; the method of unsupervised learning that is adopted by many researchers in many different scientific fields, thanks to its flexibility and robustness.  The proposed new mapping method turns out to be very successful for spatial coupling problem and can be fully automatized allowing for significant time reduction in mapping convergence study.The steady–state results obtained from three different plant models for all the investigated cases are presented.  All models achieved well converged steady–state and local parameters were compared and it was concluded that solid basis for further transient analysis was found.  Analyzing the mapping performance, the best predictions for steady–state conditions are the mappings that include the power peaking factor feature alone or with any combination of other features.  Additionally it is of value to keep the core symmetry (symmetry feature). The big part of this research is devoted to transient analysis.  The selection of transients was done such that it covers a wide range of transients and gathered knowledge may be used for other types of transients.  As a representative of a local perturbation, Control Rod Drop Accident was chosen.  A specially prepared Feedwater Transient was investigated as a regional perturbation and a Turbine Trip is an example of a global one. In the case of local perturbation, it has been found that a number of TH channels is less important than the type of mapping, so a high number of TH channels does not guarantee improved results.  To avoid unnecessary averaging and to obtain the best prediction, hot channel and core zone where accident happens should be always separated from the rest.  The best performance is achieved with mapping according power peaking factors, and therefore this one is recommended for such type of perturbation.The regional perturbation has been found to be more challenging than the others.  This kind of perturbation is strongly dependent on mapping type that affects the power increase rate, SCRAM time, onset of instability, development of limit cycle, etc.  It has been also concluded that a special effort is needed for input model preparation.  In contrast to the regional perturbation, the global perturbation is found to be the least demanding transient.  Here, the number of TH channels and type of mapping do not have significant impact on average plant behaviour – general plant response is always well recreated. A special effort has also been paid to investigate the core stability performance, in both global and regional mode.  It has been found that in case of unstable cores, a low number of TH channels significantly suppresses the instability.  For these cases number of TH channels is very important and therefore at least half of the core has to be modeled to have a confidence in predicted DR and FR. In case of regional instability in order to get correct performance of out-of-phase oscillations, it is recommended to use full-scale model.  If this is not possible, the mapping which is a mixture of 1st power mode and power peaking factors, should be used.The general conclusions and recommendations are summarized at the end of this thesis.  Development of these recommendations was one of the purposes of this investigation and they should be taken into consideration while designing new coupled TH/NK models and choosing mapping strategy for a new transient analysis.