In response to the goals outlined by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Fuel Cycle Initiative, an effort is underway to develop an integrated multi-physics, multi-resolution thermal-hydraulic simulation tool package for the evaluation of nuclear power plant design and safety. As part of this effort, initial guidance has been proposed for the development of experiments to supply validation data sets for the CFD-based thermo-fluid simulation capability. To demonstrate that the proposed data requirements can be achieved using current generation measurement methods and to refine correlation and data comparison methods suitable for very large data sets, an initial experiment focused on turbulent mixing in the upper plenum of an advanced sodium fast reactor has been proposed. Prior validation efforts to support the use of one-dimensional lumped parameter models in the analysis of reactor safety performance relied primarily on data from carefully scaled integral system experiments to validate and tune correlations used to represent the physics associated with a particular transient in a particular reactor design. Unlike the correlation-based lumped parameter codes, computational fluid dynamics simulations reduce the reliance on experimentally derived correlations to the prediction of local turbulence effects rather the prediction of integral quantities like pressure drop and heat transfer coefficients. As a consequence, simpler separate effects experiments, which capture the turbulence effects but not necessarily the integral effects within a specific component of a system, can be utilized as the primary validation basis for the CFD codes. However, while the need for large carefully scaled integral experiments is reduced, the high spatial and temporal resolution of these codes requires that experimental data be collected at fine spatial and temporal resolutions. An initial series of simulations has been completed to support the development of the proposed experimental facility using air as a surrogate for the sodium coolant. Design options considered in RANS simulations using the commercial CFD code Star-CCM+ include mixing facility dimensions, the number of inlet jets to be included and outlet position. The use of RANS simulations is supported by an initial benchmarking comparison with predictions from the spectral element large eddy simulation code Nek5000 for the nominal experimental geometry.

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