An improved anisotropic eddy viscosity model has been developed for accurate predictions of the thermal hydraulic performances of nuclear reactor fuel assemblies. The proposed model adopts a non-linear formulation of the stress-strain relationship in order to include the reproduction of the anisotropic phenomena, and in combination with an optimized low-Reynolds-number formulation based on Direct Numerical Simulation (DNS) to produce correct damping of the turbulent viscosity in the near wall region. This work underlines the importance of accurate anisotropic modeling to faithfully reproduce the scale of the turbulence driven secondary flows inside the bundle subchannels, by comparison with various isothermal and heated experimental cases. The very low scale secondary motion is responsible for the increased turbulence transport which produces a noticeable homogenization of the velocity distribution and consequently of the circumferential cladding temperature distribution, which is of main interest in bundle design. Various fully developed bare bundles test cases are shown for different geometrical and flow conditions, where the proposed model shows clearly improved predictions, in close agreement with experimental findings, for regular as well as distorted geometries. Finally the applicability of the model for practical bundle calculations is evaluated through its application in the high-Reynolds form on coarse grids, with excellent results.

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