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Research Reactor  Thermal Design and Analysis
F. M. Bsebsu
1
TNRC, Tajoura Nuclear Research Center
P. O. Box 30878, Tajoura (Tripoli) – Libya
Fax: +218 21 360 4143, Phone +218 21 360 4141
صخلملا
( ةي قثوملا مدع باس ح تاوطخو قرط ضع ب فصت ةق رولا هذه uncertainties يف )
لـعافملا لثم يداــعلا ءاملاب ةدربملا ةيووــنلا ثوــحبلا تلعافمل يرارحورديهلا ليلحتلا
( WWRM2 يواـست ةـيرارح ةـقاط وذ ) 10 ةـيقلحلا تاونقلا لامعتـسإ مـتي يذلاو ،تاو نويلم
ديربتلاو دوقولل ايلخك ةددعتملا هب ةجيتن نوكت نايحلا ضعب يف ةيقثوملا مدع نا ثيح . ببسب وا
لا ضعب بويع و .دوقولا رصانع عينصتو ميمصت يف ةساردب موقنس ،لاثملا ليبس ىلع كمس ريتاث
ةرارحلا تاجرد عي زوت ىلع مي ظع ري ثأت ام هل ان وكي ام برل فلغملا ةدام كمس كلذكو دوقولا ةدام
ريثأت اـضياو .دوقولا ةدام زـكرمو ،فلغملا حطـس ىلع ةـيروحملاو ةـيدومعلا اـمه ءادلا ىلع
لي غشتل ةديدج فورظو تلماعم رايتخإ يه ةساردلا هذه جئاتن نوكتسو ،لعافملل يرارحورديهلا
باسحب مابقلا كلذ دعب مث .دي ربتلا ةانقو دوقولا رصنعل ةيعدصتلا بويعلا ري ثات تحت لعافملا اذه
.لاجملا اذه يف ةيباسح قرط ةدع لامعتساب تلعافملا نم عونلا اذهل ةنخاسلا ةطقنلل ةديدجلا ميقلا
Abstract
This paper describes methods of uncertainties and its calculation
procedures for the watercooled nuclear research reactor (i .e. WWRM2)
with a 10 MW
th
, and its fuel type is coaxial annular, in the thermal design
and analysis, where the uncertainties are due to the reactor fuel coolant
channel design fabrication defects (fuel meat and clad thickness
uncertainties). As an example, we‘ll study the effects of the fuel meat and
cladding thickness may have a great influence on the distribution of the axial
temperatures (cladding surface, and fuel centerline) and other parameters in
1
Dr. BSEBSU, Farag Muftah
P. O. BOX 30324, Tajoura (Tripoli), Libya, GJ
Fax: +218 21 360 4142, Phone +218 21 369 3518
Email: bsebso@yahoo.com
the reactor core (reactor core thermal preformance) and more intense in the
reactor thermal design. The final results of this study are: the selection of
new reactor core operating conditions and parameters due to the fuel coolant
channel fabrication defects, and after that we’ll calculate the new values of
the hot spot and hot temperatures of the WWRM2 reactor by using different
methods.
1. Introduction
In designing a nuclear reactor, the engineer is constrained to meet a
set of requirements, such as time of completion, power output, and cost,
achievement of a certain flux level for experimental purpose. The
fundamental choice of a reactor type is governed by such initial aims,
however, a further set of design requirements such as maximum fuel
centerline temperature, maximum cladding surface temperature, maximum
enthalpy rise in the coolant, or maximum local heat flux. These could be
related to melting of the fuel with release of an excessive amount of fission
gases, to reaching an unacceptable rate of creep in the cladding material, to
boiling in the coolant of a liquid cooled reactor, or to the occurrence of
burnout condition. In order to achieve the realization of these requirements,
the designer engineer has at his disposal a number of engineering variables.
These may include the choice of the materials, which constitute the fuel,
cladding and coolant, the composition of the fuel, the geometrical
arrangement of the various materials. In general, the design concentrates on
safeguarding against one or all of these features; in any case, it is important
to study the most likely malfunctions and to estimate their probability. It
should be incorporated in this design or redesign calculation the
uncertainties, which may result from the use of theoretical computational
methods or experimental data. Uncertainties in core materials and operating
condition affect the achievement of designer goals. These uncertainties from
two main sources as uncertainties from randomness inherent in a
manufacturing process, and uncertainties are from imperfect modeling or
estimating of parameters. Thus, for example, two major design criteria were
setup for the watercooled nuclear research reactor core thermal hydraulic.
The first is to avoid nucleate boiling of coolant anywhere in the reactor core
in order to give enough allowance (The allowance in surface temperature of
fuel elements for the Onset Nucleat Boiling temperature was evaluated at the
hottest spot in the reactor core, using hot channel factors as described later)
against the burnout of the fuel element even at the hottest spot in the reactor
core to avoid any flow instability induced by partial boiling in the reactor
core and to obtain stable neutron fluxes for experiments. The second is to
give enough margins against the burnout itself of the fuel element under the
conditions of normal operation so that there may be enough margins also for
operational transients.
2. Methods of Calculation
The hot spot subfactors may be combined into an overall hot spot
factor by one of two schemes (Deterministic and Statistical methods) [15].
The procedure of combining these subfactors depends on the nature of the
individual variables. Several methods of combination of the subfactors have
been suggested and they will be critically reviewed in this section as follows:
2.1 Deterministic Methods
In this method (and this method was introduced by LeTourneau and
Grimble) all the subfactors that tend to increase the temperature are
supposed to take place simultaneously and at the same point, the extreme
values of the uncertainties such as the worst deviations in fuel loading and
dimensions will occur in the same fuel element which will be located in the
channel with the poorest coolant flow condition which in turn will be located
in the region of highest deviation from the core average flux, so on. In this
method, there are two approaches of combination of hotspot subfactors as:
(Product approach and Sum approach).
2.2 Statistical Methods
The probability that the most unfavorable value of all the
uncertainties occurs at the same positions, at the same time is extremely
small. This fact is origin to the statistical methods.
[2]
In this method all the
uncertainties are combined statistically and the hot spot factors no longer an
absolute factor and are functions of a certain confidence level. This
confidence level depends upon the necessary safety margin assigned to the
reactor core:
) . z ( F F
y y
σ ·
, where z and σ are defined as the desired
confidence level and the standard deviation of the property y, respectively.
The statistical procedure of combining the hot spot or hot channel sub
factors depends on the statistical distributions of these subfactors. The most
common distributions are the Gaussian and the rectangular distributions. The
two procedures that were developed for combining factors by this method
as: (Productstatistical method, and Sum  statistical method). Table 1
summarizes the general formula for combinational methods of hot spot
factors and temperatures analysis [2 15].
Table 1. Formula for combinational methods of hot spot analysis
Method Hot spot factor Hot spot temperature
Cumulativ
e
Product
∏
·
·
n
1 i
y , i y
f F
∑
·
+ ·
M
1 y
nom . y y in M
T . F T T ∆
Sum
∑
·
− + ·
n
1 i
y , i y
) 1 f ( 1 F
∑
·
+ ·
M
1 y
nom . y y in M
T . F T T ∆
Statistical
Vertical
,
`
.

− + ·
∑
·
n
1 i
2
y , i y
) 1 f ( 1 F
∑
·
+ ·
M
1 y
nom . y y in M
T . F T T ∆
Horizonta
l
nom , y
1 J J
y
T
T T
F
∆
−
−
·
∑
∑
·
·
∆ − +
+ ∆ + ·
n
i
nom y y i
M
y
nom y in M
T f
T T T
1
2
. ,
1
.
] ). 1 [(
3. Sample Problem
The WWRM2 watercooled nuclear research reactor is a cylindrical
tank type reactor. The reactor core is placed 5.145 m below the surface of the
reactor tank (in order to minimize the radioactive exposure to the personnel),
which is open to atmospheric pressure. The diameter of the tank is 2300 mm,
and its height is 5685 mm. The heavy concrete reactorshielding block is
situated in a rectangular semihermetically sealed reactor hall. The base of
the reactor core is a hexagonal grid plate, with 397 identically formed holes.
The fuel assemblies and the beryllium displacers can be put into these holes,
as well as the guide tubes of the 18absorber rods. A fixed beryllium
reflector of 20cm average thickness surrounds the core. The fuel assembly
type consists of 3 coaxial fuel elements, the innermost is a Tube, this is
followed by a second fuel element with an annulus crosssection, and the
third fuel element (outer) is a hexagonal shape, with active length is 60 cm.
[1622].
4. Calculation Results
In this section the methods described in previous section are applied
to the WWRM2 nuclear research reactor thermal hydraulic analysis. The
coolant and clad surface temperatures will be analysed for several values of
temperature limits.
4.1 Fuel element fabrication defects
The fuel elements type WWRSM has a high ratio of heat transfer
area to elements volume, thereby permitting operation at high heat fluxes.
This configuration is particularly attractive for the reactors high neutron
fluxes in research reactors as in WWRM2 and of high specific power in
compact reactors. Usually the high ratio of claddingplusfuel diluents to
fuel makes it advisable that the fuel to high enriched uranium. Since WWR
M2 reactor fuel element geometry is an effective means of improving heat
removal, it reduces the central temperature of a fuel of low conductivity. The
principal problem in the design and fabrication of WWRM2 reactor fuel
assemblies is the mechanical stability of the plates. These plates have to be
thin enough, generally 2.5 mm or less, to provide the advantage of this
geometry for heat removal and yet strong enough to maintain a stable
configuration, notably in permitting flow of coolant through the small water
channels between fuel elements.
The fabrication of the WWRSM fuel elements by using Hot Roll
bonding technique, which is the predominant method for fabrication of the
fuel elements, this technique versatile enough to be applicable to a variety of
fuelcladding combinations and to permit the performance of a series of fuel
elements differing in composition and in any of several dimensional. This
technique is using for the fabrication of WWRM2 reactor fuel elements may
be produce a lot of fabrication errors or uncertainties in the fuel elements
dimensions. These errors are depending on the accuracy and operating
conditions of the fabrication machines. The our example of the fabrication
defects in the fuel elements dimensions (40 cases of fuel elements)
comparing to the design fuel elements dimensions, and the comparison
between statistical calculations due to fabrication defects and design are
shown in Table 2.
[1, 16].
Table 2. The comparison between statistical calculations due
fabrication defect and design value for WWRM2 reactor fuel
elements thickness, [mm].
Variable
Thickness
[mm]
Fuel Element I Fuel Element II Fuel Element III
Design
Statistica
l
Design
Statistica
l
Design Statistical
Clad 0.9 0.75±0.26 0.9 0.77±0.25 0.94 0.78±0.31
Meat 0.7 1.04±0.13 0.7 1.02±0.12 0.74 1.02±0.13
Clad 0.9 0.76±0.19 0.9 0.76±0.17 0.94 0.76±0.18
FETH 2.5 2.55±0.48 2.5 2.55±0.54 2.62 2.56±0.62
Using the fuel elements dimensions as given in Table 2 as input date
file of THMOD2 code [1] we’ll get the results of WWRM2 reactor
operating parameters (Hydraulic diameter, coolant velocity, heat transfer
coefficient, heat flux on the surfaces, clad surface temperature, fuel
centreline temperature, and so on) are shown in Tables 3, 4, and 5,
respectively.
Table 3. The comparison between the statistical calculation with design
values.
SubChannels Method Dh, [mm] V, [m/s] α , [W/cm
2
. K]
A
Design 6 2.87 1.73
Statistica
l
5.95 ± 0.46 2.79 ± 0.6 1.79 ± 0.32
B
Design 6 2.87 1.72
Statistica
l
5.89 ± 0.91 2.76 ± 0.46 1.77 ± 0.30
C
Design 6.36 2.93 1.75
Statistica
l
6.30 ± 1.16 2.90 ± 0.48 1.82 ± 0.28
D
Design 6.62 2.97 2.05
Statistica
l
6.36 ± 1.02 3.04 ± 0.48 1.87 ± 0.32
Table 4. The comparison between the statistical calculation with design
values.
Subchannels Surface Method
max
q′ ′ , [W/cm
2
]
clad
max
T ,[
°
C]
Surface 1
Design 65.13 96.43
Statistica
l
68.36 ± 6.84 107.47 ± 6.06
Surface 2
Design 53.39 88.94
Statistica
l
55.41 ± 4.77 97.25 ± 7.56
Surface 3
Design 60.73 93.09
Statistica
l
62.50 ± 2.73 102.44 ± 5.19
Surface 4
Design 55.05 90.50
Statistica
l
56.11 ± 3.99 97.20 ± 5.07
Surface 5
Design 79.27 103.92
Statistica
l
77.11 ± 2.64 112.00 ± 4.53
Surface 6
Design 80.93 97.72
Statistica
l
78.93 ± 2.56 112.95 ± 6.36
Table 5. The comparison between the statistical calculation with design
values.
WWRM2 Fuel Elements
Fuel
max
T , Maximum Fuel Centerline Temperature, [
o
C]
Fuel Element 1
Design 141.86
Statistical 147.4 ± 11.3
Fuel Element 2
Design 135.59
Statistical 139.0 ± 10.5
Fuel Element 3
Design 151.69
Statistical 157.5 ± 11.8
4.2 Results of fuel element fabrication defects
Finally, according to the results of the fuel element thickness
(fabrication defects), and according to design limits of the WWRM2 reactor
(Fuel centerline temperature ≤ 150
°
C, and max. cladding surface
temperature ≤ 104
°
C), and from Figure 1, We can select the fuel meat and
cladding thickness (the fuel meat thickness = 0.86 mm, and the cladding
thickness = 1.021 mm) for all fuel elements (new design).
Using the new design thickness for the WWRM2 reactor fuel
elements, we shall calculate the thermal hydraulic parameters for this type of
nuclear research reactor, and by using THMOD2 code. Figure 2 shows the
calculated results for both cases (new design and vendor (old) design) of fuel
axial centerline temperature, cladding surface temperature, and coolant
temperature as a function of channel axial distance of subchannel D in the
WWRM2 reactor fuel coolant channel as an example. Table 6 shows the
calculated results of hydraulic diameter, channel spacing, channel inlet
coolant velocity, channel inlet coolant heat transfer coefficient, and the
channel coolant outlet temperature for both cases.
Figure 1. Maximum fuel
centerline temperature as a
function of fuel meat and
cladding thickness.
Figure 2. Temperature
distribution along fuel
coolant channel for new
and old design.
Finally, and according to the operating limits of WWRSM reactor
core for the maximum centreline temperature of the fuel elements (≤ 150
o
C)
and maximum surface temperature for the fuel cladding (≤ 104
o
C) we can
conclude that the new design (statistical) fuel meat thickness and cladding
thickness are better than the old design as shown in the Table 7 and Table 8,
respectively.
Table 6. The calculated results of Thermal hydraulic Parameters.
Sub
channels
Parameter Old design New Design
Channel A
Dh [mm] 6.00 5.60
Cs [mm] 3.00 2.80
V [m/sec] 2.78 3.21
α [W/cm
2
K] 1.60 1.83
Tout [
o
C] 64.38 64.74
Channel B
Dh [mm] 6.00 5.20
Cs [mm] 3.00 2.60
V [m/sec] 2.78 3.04
α [W/cm
2
K] 1.60 1.78
Tout [
o
C] 67.71 69.27
Channel C
Dh [mm] 6.36 5.68
Cs [mm] 3.18 2.84
V [m/sec] 2.90 3.24
α [W/cm
2
K] 1.64 1.83
Tout [
o
C] 63.73 63.63
Channel D
Dh [mm] 6.62 6.00
Cs [mm] 1.58 1.44
V [m/sec] 2.98 3.37
α [W/cm
2
K] 1.66 1.87
Tout [
o
C] 65.11 64.23
Table 7. Maximum cladding surface temperatures [
o
C].
Cladding Surface Old design New Design
1 100.21 100.73
2 93.98 92.38
3 98.50 98.67
4 92.68 90.50
5 108.57 103.82
6 109.34 103.24
Table 8. Maximum fuel centerline temperatures [
o
C].
Case Fuel Element I Fuel Element II Fuel Element III
New Design 137.53 131.49 143.79
Old Design 138.20 133.27 154.82
4.3 Determination of the hot spot and hot temperatures
In this section, we’ll summarize the calculated values [the complete
description of this calculation is described in ref. 1] of hot spot subfactors,
overall hot spot factors and the hot spot temperature of coolant, cladding
surface, and fuel centerline by using the combinational methods (section 2,
and Table 1), with using the following nominal temperatures values (coolant
 ΔT
1,nom
= 25
°
C, clad  ΔT
2,nom
= 26
°
C, fuel  ΔT
3,nom
= 30
°
C, and T
in
= 50
°
C), the final results of this calculation are given in Table 9.
Table 9. Results Summary for hot spot and hot temperature of WWR
M2 reactor
Method Hot spot
Coolant
y =1
M =1
Clad
y = 2
M = 2
Fuel
y = 3
M = 3
Deterministic
Product
Fy
TM, [
°
C]
1.84
96
1.38
130.5
1.26
168.3
Sum
Fy
TM, [
°
C]
1.66
91.5
1.35
125.2
5
1.25
162.75
Statistical
Vertical
Fy
TM, [
°
C]
1.33
83.25
1.26
114.75
1.22
151.35
Horizontal
Fy
TM, [
°
C]
1.33
83.25
1.095
111.74
1.063
143.64
5. Calculation of Uncertainties
It is useful to report the significant uncertainties interval of the
THMOD2 code for calculating WWRM2 reactor coolant channel heat
transfer coefficients using DittusBoelter correlation as an example. The
RootSumSquare (RSS) method is more precise method of estimating
uncertainty intervals: [1, 15]
2
1
2
i
2
1
1
w .......... w
]
]
]
]
,
`
.

∂
∂
+ +
,
`
.

∂
∂
·
i
R
x
R
x
R
W
Where R is the result and x
n
independent variables, i number of independent
variables, w
i
are the uncertainties if independent variables, and calculated as
following.
N
w
i
i
σ 3
·
Where σ
n
is the standard deviation of independent variables, and N is the
total number of calculation cases.
The uncertainty interval calculations for heat transfer coefficients,
which were calculated by using DittusBoelter correlation, are given in the
Table 10.
Table 10. The overall uncertainties results of heat transfer coefficient.
Heat Transfer coefficient uncertainty interval, WR [ t %]
Channel A Channel B Channel C Channel D
1.5 1.0 0.45 0.46
Conclusions
From the previous results, it is clear that the manufacturing defects
of the fuel element dimensions has great effects on the thermal hydraulic
performance of the reactor, therefore, must take our great care before loading
the fuel assemblies in the reactor, we should measure and selecting them,
which had the same dimensions (if it possible) to getting the good neutron
flux distribution in the reactor core, and also to overlook the maximum
design parameters which must keeping under design value limits (i.e. clad
surface temperature).
The uncertainties determination in the nuclear reactor thermal
hydraulic analysis and design are very important tools sbecause they are
giving and showing us the possibilities of errors points in our system and
whereabouts those errors. The selection of hot channel factors has a large
influence on the thermalhydraulic performance and impacts the design and
safety margins of the reactor. Thus, these factors should be selected with
great care. The proposed uncertainties determination methods are asn
attempt to provide some guidance and rational for this task.
Nomenclature
C
s
= Channel spacing, [mm]
D
h
= Equivalent hydraulic diameter, [mm]
y , i
f
= Single hot spot factor for property, y and I independent variables
y
F
= Overall hot spot factor for property, y
M = Material type = (1 = coolant, 2 = clad, 3 = fuel, 4 = film)
max
q′ ′
= Maximum cladding surface heat flux, [W/cm
2
]
T
in
= Coolant inlet temperature
T
M
= Hot spot temperature
clad
max
T = Maximum cladding surface temperature, [
°
C]
Fuel
max
T = Maximum Fuel Centerline Temperature, [
o
C]
T
out
= Channel outlet temperature, [
o
C]
V = Coolant velocity, [m/sec]
i
w = Uncertainty of independent variables i
R
W = Overall uncertainty interval, [ t %]
x
i
= Independent variables
Z = Desired confidence level
ΔT
M,nom
= Nominal temperature of material M
α
= Heat transfer coefficient, [W/cm
2
. K]
σ
i
= Standard deviation of independent variables i
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