During certain phases of a severe accident in a pressurized water reactor (PWR), the core becomes uncovered and steam carries heat to the steam generators through natural circulation. For PWR’s with U-tube steam generators and loop seals filled with water, a counter current flow pattern is established in the hot leg. This flow pattern has been experimentally observed and has been predicted using computational fluid dynamics (CFD). Predictions of severe accident behavior are routinely carried out using severe accident system analysis codes such as SCDAP/RELAP5 or MELCOR. These codes, however, were not developed for predicting the three-dimensional natural circulation flow patterns during this phase of a severe accident. CFD, along with a set of experiments at 1/7th scale, have been historically used to establish the flow rates and mixing for the system analysis tools. One important aspect of these predictions is the counter current flow rate in the nearly 30 inch diameter hot leg between the reactor vessel and steam generator. This flow rate is strongly related to the amount of energy that can be transported away from the reactor core. This energy transfer plays a significant role in the prediction of core failures as well as potential failures in other reactor coolant system piping. CFD is used to determine the counter current flow rate during a severe accident. Specific sensitivities are completed for parameters such as surge line flow rates, hydrogen content, as well as vessel and steam generator temperatures. The predictions are carried out for the reactor vessel upper plenum, hot leg, a portion of the surge line, and a steam generator blocked off at the outlet plenum. All predictions utilize the FLEUNT V6 CFD code. The volumetric flow in the hot leg is assumed to be proportional to the square root of the product of normalized density difference, gravity, and hydraulic diameter to the 5th power. CFD is used to determine the proportionality constant in the range from 0.11 to 0.13 and termed a discharge coefficient. The value is relatively unchanged for typical surge line flow rates as well as the hydrogen content in the flow. Over a significant range of expected temperature differences for the steam generator and reactor vessel upper plenum, the discharge coefficient also remained consistent. The discharge coefficient is a suitable model for determining the hot leg counter current flow rates during this type of severe accident.

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