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Simulation of natural circulation cartridge loop experiments and application to molten salt reactors...

by Jacob P Gorton, Daniel C Sweeney, Christian M Petrie, Joel L Mcduffee
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Nuclear Engineering and Design
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This work uses the TRAC/RELAP Advanced Computational Engine (TRACE) thermal hydraulics (TH) code to model natural circulation cartridge loop experiments previously conducted at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) using water and compares the simulated and experimental results. TRACE is also used to characterize natural circulation in the cartridge loop vehicle using FLiNaK as the working fluid. The experimental vehicle is a buoyancy-aided, annular cartridge loop, referred to as a thermosyphon, and is designed to aid in qualifying liquid–fueled and/or liquid–cooled irradiation experiments for the Versatile Test Reactor (VTR), which is currently being designed in the United States. Out-of-pile water experiments have been conducted using the cartridge and the Thermosyphon Test Loop facility at ORNL, and future experiments are anticipated that would use other molten salt surrogates as the working fluid, followed by eventual insertion of a similar cartridge into VTR. This work aims to determine how well TRACE can replicate the natural convection conditions that were observed experimentally; this serves as an initial step for validating the modeling tool for design and safety calculations to support future irradiation experiments in VTR. Initial predictions of potential experiments were made using FLiNaK as the natural circulation fluid to demonstrate the relevance of the cartridge design to molten salt reactors (MSRs). Results from this study indicate that TRACE can accurately capture natural convection phenomena in the thermosyphon and that several design changes to the current cartridge vehicle are necessary to achieve hydraulic conditions similar to those expected in MSRs.