Laminar natural convection heat transfer from vertical 7 × 7 rod bundle in liquid sodium was numerically analyzed to optimize the thermal–hydraulic design for the bundle geometry with equilateral square array (ESA). The unsteady laminar three-dimensional basic equations for natural convection heat transfer caused by a step heat flux were numerically solved until the solution reaches a steady-state. The code of the parabolic hyperbolic or elliptic numerical integration code series (PHOENICS) was used for the calculation considering the temperature dependence of thermophysical properties concerned. The 7 × 7 heated rods for diameter (D =0.0076 m), length (L =0.2 m) and L/D (=26.32) were used in this work. The surface heat fluxes for each cylinder, which was uniformly heated along the length, were equally given for a modified Rayleigh number, (Raf,L)ij and (Raf,L)Nx×Ny,S/D, ranging from 3.08 × 104 to 4.28 × 107 (q =1 × 104∼7 × 106 W/m2) in liquid temperature (TL = 673.15 K). The values of ratio of the diagonal center-line distance between rods for bundle geometry to the rod diameter (S/D) for vertical 7 × 7 rod bundle were ranged from 1.8 to 6 on the bundle geometry with ESA. The spatial distribution of average Nusselt numbers for a vertical single cylinder of a rod bundle, (Nuav)ij, and average Nusselt numbers for a vertical rod bundle, (Nuav,B)Nx×Ny,S/D, were clarified. The average values of Nusselt number, (Nuav)ij and (Nuav,B)Nx×Ny,S/D, for the bundle geometry with various values of S/D were calculated to examine the effect of array size, bundle geometry, S/D, (Raf,L)ij and (Raf,L)Nx×Ny,S/D on heat transfer. The bundle geometry for the higher (Nuav,B)Nx×Ny,S/D value under the condition of S/D = constant was examined. The general correlations for natural convection heat transfer from a vertical Nx×Ny rod bundle with the ESA and equilateral triangle array (ETA), including the effects of array size, (Raf,L)Nx×Ny,S/D and S/D were derived. The correlations for vertical Nx×Ny rod bundles can describe the theoretical values of (Nuav,B)Nx×Ny,S/D for each bundle geometry in the wide analytical range of S/D (=1.8–6) and the modified Rayleigh number ((Raf,L)Nx×Ny,S/D = 3.08 × 104 to 4.28 × 107) within −9.49 to 10.6% differences.

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