The U. S. Department of Energy (DOE) is supporting the development of a next generation nuclear plant (NGNP), which will be based on a very high temperature reactor (VHTR) design. The VHTR is a single-phase helium-cooled reactor wherein the helium will be heated initially to 750 °C and later to temperatures approaching 1000 °C. The high temperatures are desired to increase reactor efficiency and to provide a heat source for the manufacture of hydrogen and other applications. While computational fluid dynamics (CFD) has not been used in the past to design or license nuclear reactors in the U. S., it is expected that CFD will be used in the design and safety analysis of forthcoming designs. This is partly because of the maturity of CFD and partly because detailed information is desired of the flow and heat transfer inside the reactor to avoid hot spots and other conditions that might compromise reactor safety. Numerical computations of turbulent flow should be validated against experimental data for flow conditions that contain some or all of the physics expected in the thermal fluid machinery of interest. To this end, a scaled model of a narrow slice of the lower plenum of the prismatic VHTR was constructed and installed in the Idaho National Laboratory’s (INL) matched index of refraction (MIR) test facility and data were taken. The data were then studied and compared to CFD calculations to help determine their suitability for validation data. One of the main findings was that the inlet data, which were measured and controlled by calibrated mass flow rotameters and were also measured using detailed stereo particle image velocimetry (PIV) showed considerable discrepancies in mass flow rate between the two methods. The other finding was that a randomly unstable recirculation zone occurs in the flow. This instability has a very significant effect on the flow field in the vicinity of the inlet jets. Because its time scale is long and because it is apparently a random instability, it was deemed undesirable for a validation data set. It was predicted using CFD that by eliminating the first of the four jets, the recirculation zone could be stabilized. The present paper reports detailed results for the three-jet case with comparisons to the four-jet data inasmuch as three-jet data are still unavailable. Hence, the present simulations are true or blind predictions.

This content is only available via PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.