A CFD study has been carried out on fluid flow and heat transfer in the HLM-cooled Fuel Pin Bundle of the ALFRED LFR DEMO.

In the context of GEN-IV Heavy Liquid Metal-cooled reactors safety studies, the flow blockage in a Fuel sub-assembly is considered one of the main issues to be addressed and the most important and realistic accident for LFR Fuel Assembly. The present paper is a first step towards a detailed analysis of such phenomena, and a CFD model and approach is presented to have a detailed thermo-fluid dynamic picture in the case of blockage. The closed hexagonal, grid-spaced fuel assembly of the LFR ALFRED has been modeled and computed. At this stage, the details of the spacer grids have not been included, but a conservative analysis has been carried out based on the current main geometrical and physical features. Reactivity feedback, as well as axial power profile, have not been included in this analysis. Results indicate that critical conditions, with clad temperatures around ∼900°C, are reached with blockage larger than 30% in terms of area fraction.

Two main effects can be distinguished: a local effect in the wake/recirculation region downstream the blockage and a global effect due to the lower mass flow rate in the blocked subchannels; the former effect gives rise to a temperature peak behind the blockage and it is dominant for large blockages (>20%), while the latter effect determines a temperature peak at the end of the active region and it is dominant for small blockages (<10%). The blockage area has been placed at the beginning of the active region, so that both over-mentioned phenomena can fully take place. The mass flow rate at the different degree of blockage has been imposed from preliminary system code simulations.

Transient analyses with fully resolved SST-ω turbulence model have been carried out and results indicate that a blockage of ∼15% (in terms of blocked area) leads to a maximum clad temperature around 800 °C, and this condition is reached in a characteristic time of 3–4 s without overshoot. Local clad temperatures around 1000 °C can be reached for blockages of 30% or more.

CFD simulations indicate that Blockages >15% could be detected by putting some thermocouples in the plenum region of the FA.

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