Hydrogen is adopted as coolant for regenerative cooling nozzle and reactor reflector in nuclear thermal propulsion (NTP), which may be a promising technology for human space exploration in the near future due to its large thrust and high specific impulse. During the cooling processes, the hydrogen experiences the transition from subcritical state to supercritical state, which influences the heat transfer severely. This paper is intended to study the characteristic of convective heat transfer to supercritical hydrogen in a straight tube under high heat flux through numerical simulation, which is a common phenomenon in NTP operation. The thermophysical properties and transport properties including the equation of state, specific heat capacity, viscosity and thermal conductivity of hydrogen are evaluated firstly by compared with the data from National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Then, the flow and heat transfer process is investigated using Reynolds Averaged Naiver-Stokes (RANS) model, and the approach is validated by the successfully predicted behavior called local heat transfer deterioration. Moreover, the mechanism of heat transfer deterioration is analyzed briefly according to the detailed information of flow field. This work herein contributes to the further NTP design and research.

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