The AVR (Arbeitsgemeinschaft Versuchsreaktor) is a pebble bed type helium cooled graphite moderated high temperature reactor that operated in Germany for 21 years and was closed down in December 1988 [1]. The AVR melt-wire experiments [2], where graphite spheres with melt-wires of different melting temperatures were introduced into the core, indicate that measured pebble temperatures significantly exceeded temperatures calculated with the models used at the time [3]. These discrepancies are often attributed to the special design features of the AVR, in particular the control rod noses protruding into the core, and to inherent features of the pebble bed reactor. In order to reduce the uncertainty in design and safety calculations the PBMR Company is re-evaluating the AVR melt-wire experiments with updated models and tools. 3-D neutronics thermal-hydraulics analyses are performed utilizing a coupled VSOP99-STAR-CD calculation. In the coupled system VSOP99 [4] provides power profiles on a geometrical mesh to STAR-CD [5] while STAR-CD provides the fuel, moderator and solid structure temperatures to VSOP99. The different fuel histories and flow variations can be modelled with VSOP99 (although this is not yet included in the model) while the computational fluid dynamics (CFD) code, STAR-CD, adds higher-order thermal and gas flow modelling capabilities. This coupling therefore ensures that the correct thermal feedback to the neutronics is included. Of the many possible explanations for the higher-than-expected melt-wire temperatures, flow bypassing the pebble core was identified as potentially the largest contributor and was thus selected as the first topic to study. This paper reports the bounding effects of bypass flows on the gas temperatures in the top of the reactor. It also presents preliminary comparisons between measured temperatures above the core ceiling structure and calculated temperatures. Results to date confirm the importance of correctly modelling the bypass flows. Plans on future model improvements and other effects to be studied with the coupled VSOP99-STAR-CD tool are also included.

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