In sodium-cooled fast reactor (SFR), thermal gradient is the paramount factor of assembly transient bowing, that may cause great reactivity change, accelerate wrapper vibration wear, hindering the motion of control/shutdown rods, or worse yet, threatening the integrity of assemblies. However, because of the complexity of multi-assembly contact and interaction problem, it is difficult to assess the impact of core deformation on reactor performance safety.

The Core Assembly Deformation Test Facility (CADTF) is designed to perform a series of thermal bowing tests by Xi‘an Jiao Tong University (XJTU) to investigate the core deformation behaviors under thermal gradient. In this paper, a finite element model was established to simulate the mechanical response of single assembly under different flat-to-flat thermal gradient. The single assembly restrained bowing test performed in CADTF is chosen to validate the model. In the model, the measured temperature distribution as well as temperature-dependent elastoplastic and thermal expansion properties were taken into consideration. To ensure the model reliability, iterative computation is conducted by adjusting the friction coefficient of the load pads to match the calculated and measured contact force. According to the results, it can be seen that the three-dimensional displacement of assembly shows relatively good agreement with the experimental data. Therefore, it can be concluded that the model is capable of performing core deformation analysis for SFR.

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