Two-dimensional simulations of steady natural convection and radiation heat transfer for a 14×14 pressurized water reactor (PWR) spent nuclear fuel assembly within a square basket tube of a typical transport package were conducted using a commercial computational fluid dynamics package. The assembly is composed of 176 heat generating fuel rods and 5 larger guide tubes. The maximum cladding temperature was determined for a range of assembly heat generation rates and uniform basket wall temperatures, with both helium and nitrogen backfill gases. The results are compared with those from earlier simulations of a 7×7 boiling water reactor (BWR). Natural convection/radiation simulations exhibited measurably lower cladding temperatures only when nitrogen is the backfill gas and the wall temperature is below 100°C. The reduction in temperature is larger for the PWR assembly than it was for the BWR. For nitrogen backfill, a ten percent increase in the cladding emissivity (whose value is not well characterized) causes a 4.7% reduction in the maximum cladding to wall temperature difference in the PWR, compared to 4.3% in the BWR at a basket wall temperature of 400°C. Helium backfill exhibits reductions of 2.8% and 3.1% for PWR and BWR respectively. Simulations were performed in which each guide tube was replaced with four heat generating fuel rods, to give a homogeneous array. They show that the maximum cladding to wall temperature difference versus total heat generation within the assembly is not sensitive to this geometric variation.

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