Thermal/hydraulic or thermal/fluid analysis and experimentation is used to support a wide variety of national and international programs. Analysis includes nuclear reactor design and safety evaluations for both existing and advanced fission reactor systems, as well as support for non-fission reactor programs such as the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER), the Spallation Neutron Source, etc. Computational fluid dynamics (STAR CCM+, FLUENT, CFX, etc.), transient two-phase (RELAP, TRACE), and severe accident (MELCOR) codes are used to support multiple sponsors. ORNL's high-performance computational equipment is used to build large, complex models needed to completely characterize thermal and fluid behavior. The fuel performance codes, FRAPCON, FRAPTRAN, and TRANSURANUS, are also applied to help develop new reactor fuel concepts and analyze the performance of existing fuels. Code benchmarking is a critical element to assure that design analysis tools can be used to accurately predict the behavior of the facilities to which they are applied. Experiments are developed specifically to support code benchmark activities.
Thermal hydraulic experimental programs also support a variety of sponsors. Experiments are designed and built for specific applications and coupled with state-of-the art instrumentation to characterize detailed thermal and fluid behavior. Researchers have experience with a wide variety of fluids ranging from water (low and high pressure) to liquid mercury, to high temperature liquid salts. Instrumentation includes laser Doppler velocimetry systems, high speed videography, ultrasonic velocity profilimetry, and instrumentation that is capable of operating at high system temperatures, as well as conventional measurement devices and data acquisition and control.
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