Thermal hydraulic behavior in the upper plenum of pool-type sodium-cooled fast reactors (SFRs) is a major concern, as many design challenges are concentrated in this region. As SFR designs aim for licensing and commercialization, it is important to accurately analyze and predict the thermal-hydraulic behavior in this region during accident scenarios, specifically thermal stratification.

Thermal stratification models are currently a major source of uncertainty in most system codes for all types of power plants. Most system codes, including SAS4A/SASSYS-1, a system level code developed by Argonne National Laboratory (Argonne), use very coarse meshes that cannot capture the complexities of the stratification phenomena. While the commonly employed lumped-volume based models for thermal stratification are able to run in a matter of seconds, they result in approximate results and can only handle simple cases. Other 2-D and 3-D methods, such as computational fluid dynamics (CFD) models, can analyze simple configurations with higher fidelity, but come with a relatively large computational expense. Finding a modeling solution that is both accurate and computationally efficient has proven difficult.

This paper provides details of a review and gap analysis of the various modeling approaches proposed to date and explores a path forward for future thermal stratification modeling efforts, with a focus on developing new models for the SAS4A/SASSYS-1 system code.

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