Dry storage casks are used to store spent nuclear fuel after removal from the reactor spent fuel pool. Even prior to the Fukushima earthquake of March 2011, dry storage of spent fuel was receiving increased attention as many reactor spent fuel pools near their capacity.

Many different types of cask designs are used, and one representative design is the TN-24P spent fuel cask, a non-ventilated steel cask with a shielded exterior shell and lid. The cask is typically filled with an inert gas such as helium, argon or nitrogen. In this paper, Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) calculation results for the thermal performance of the TN-24P cask using the commercial CFD software STAR-CCM+ are presented. Initial calculations employ a common approach of treating the fuel assemblies as conducting porous media with calibrated volume-averaged properties, and comparison to existing measured temperature data shows good agreement.

One of the fuel assemblies is then replaced with a more accurate representation that includes the full geometric detail of the fuel rods, guide tubes, spacer grids and end fittings (flow nozzles), and the results shown are consistent with the initial analysis, but without the need for the assumptions inherent in the porous media approach. This hybrid modeling approach also permits the direct determination of important results, such as the precise location of peak fuel cladding temperatures (PCTs), which is not possible using the more traditional porous media approach.

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