The Ultimate Heat Sink (UHS) is a large body of water supply that can be used to cool vital nuclear power plant systems during normal operation and for accident conditions. Due to more stringent environmental and water permit requirements, many new nuclear design proposals have selected the relatively smaller sized mechanical-draft cooling tower with a basin for their UHS. UHS sizing analysis is a critical licensing task for some new generation nuclear power plants Combined Operating License Applications (COLA).

In this paper, a potential UHS is sized for a representative new generation nuclear power plant considering worst case design inputs and modeling assumptions. Over 30 years of historical site meteorological data are processed using an automated technique to identify limiting conditions based on resulting worst UHS design parameters, such as the maximum basin evaporative water loss and the highest basin temperature. The impacts of the cooling tower entrance recirculation effect to these design parameters are also investigated. This paper models the transient plant heat loads in detail for various design basis accident conditions. The large-break LOCA heat load is determined to be bounding for the basin evaporative water loss, while a small-break LOCA heat load may result in the highest basin water temperature. This paper also illustrates that the bounding basin water temperature can result when the peak wet bulb temperature is coincident with the peak UHS heat load. The results of this paper are of interest for new generation nuclear power plants as the paper determines impacts of limiting conditions in assessing the design margins for UHS sizing.

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