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5th International Congress on

Computational Mechanics and Simulation,


10-13 December 2014, India

NUMERICAL SIMULATION OF FLOW AROUND THE


RESEARCH REACTOR FUEL TOES
SINGH D*, ESWARAN M, KARIMULLA S ,BHATTACHARYA S, MAMMEN S and
REDDY GR
Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, Mumbai, India
*
E-mail: deepmbm2011@gmail.com

ABSTRACT
In the present work, comprehensive computational fluid dynamic (CFD) analysis has been carried
out to observe the effect of flow induced vibration on the fuel toes of a typical research reactor. 2-D
simulations have been carried out in the symmetry plane of inlet plenum of the research reactor to
observe the wake formation inside and behind each fuel toe. Force coefficients have been
calculated for all the fuel toes located in the symmetry plane. A relationship between Strouhal
frequency and Reynolds number for the research reactor fuel toes has been established. The
simulation was carried out in OpenFOAM-2.2.0 open source CFD code using pisoFoam solver.
Validation of the computational procedure has been done by benchmarking the standard problem
like flow past a circular cylinder and square cylinder at different Reynolds numbers. The velocity
variation inside the fuel toes and the flow pattern are studied in detail using 2-D simulations.
Keywords: Fuel toe; PisoFoam; Natural frequency; Forces and induced stresses.

Introduction
A typical research reactor is being designed to produce the isotopes and carry out physics
experiments. The reactor consists of inlet plenum and reactor core. Inlet plenum is having two
openings at diametrically opposite end through which coolant enters into the plenum. The reactor
core consists of twenty-five fuel assemblies with square fuel toe at its bottom through which the
coolant (water) flows at 1875 lpm through each fuel assembly to carry fission heat generated in the
fuel assembly. Coolant enters into the fuel toe radially from the inlet plenum and comes out axially
through the fuel toe as shown in Fig. 1.The design and the flow conditions have made the toe of
different fuel assemblies prone to dynamic and static deflections. The aim of the present work is to
find out shedding frequency of flow in the fuel toes numerically. To find out shedding frequency in
the toes due to fluid flow, OpenFOAM-2.2.0 open source CFD software is used to find the flow
parameters.

2311
c
2014
ICCMS Organisers. Published by Research Publishing. All rights reserved.
ISBN:978-981-09-1139-3 || doi:10.3850/978-981-09-1139-3 330

Numerical Investigation
The unsteady, two dimensional Navier-Strokes equation along with incompressibility constraint is
solved for fluid domain of the inlet plenum in the present study. The flow close to a solid wall is
very different compared to the free stream. The distance from the wall to first layer, where the
logarithmic layer meets the viscous sub-layer (or to some extent would meet if there was not a
buffer layer in between) need to be chosen appropriately based on the turbulent scheme.
Turbulence model used in present study is k- SST. Temporal discretization is performed based on
implicit method which causes much less damping and is thereby more accurate. Computational
domain for the numerical investigation is as shown in Fig. 2.

slip
nonoslip

800

400

inlet

no slip

Fuel Toes

inlet

400

Outlet

no slip

no slip
no slip
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Fig. 1 Inlet plenum of research reactor

Fig. 2 2-D computational domain

The dimensionless flow parameters are defined as follows,


, C L = 2 FL
C D = 2 FD
U 2 D
U 2 D

(1)

where FL and FD denote lift and drag forces, respectively. Dimensionless flow parameters are also
given by
f D
UD
tU
Re =
, St = v , T =
(2)

U
D
where Re is the Reynolds number, St is the Strouhal number, T is the dimensionless time, is the
fluid viscosity, D is the cylinder diameter, t is the time at each time step and fv is the frequency of
vertex shedding which can be calculated from the oscillating frequency of lift force.
Validation studies
To validate the current computational procedure, flow over a circular cylinder is studied for
Reynolds number Re=100, 150 and 3900 and flow over square cylinder is studied for Re = 100 and
5104. Vortex shedding past a square cylinder at Re 100 is shown in Fig. 3. Dimensions of the
computational domain are taken from literature. Values of various flow parameters like Strouhal
number (St), coefficient of lift (Cl ) and drag (Cd) have been calculated and found in good
agreement with literature as shown in Table 1, Table 2 and Table 3.

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5th International Congress on Computational Mechanics and Simulation


Table 1 Validation for laminar flow over circular cylinder Re= 100 and 150
Re =100
Re =150
Cd
Cl
Cd
Cl
Present
1.45
0.2648
1.4
0.36
Silva et al.,
1.39
0.225
1.37
0.3529
2003
Table 2 Validation for turbulent flow over circular cylinder Re=3900
St

Cd

Present k- model

0.22

0.99

Present k- SST model


Present SpalartAllmaras model

0.22
0.21

1.00
0.97

Experimental Value*

0.215

0.99

DNS Literature*

0.22

1.03

LES Literature*

0.215

1.15

*Experiment and DNS/LES values are taken from Tremblay, 2001

Fig. 3 Velocity contours for flow past a single fuel toe at Re100
Table 3 Validation for flow over square cylinder (*values are taken from Yoon et al. 2010)
Re
Cl
Clrms
Cd
St
Laminar flow
Present case
100
0.24
0.176
1.62
0.14
Okajima A* , 1997
100
1.6
0.139
Islam et al., 2012
100
1.3
0.14
Gera et al., 2010
100
0.22
0.157
1.461
0.129
Turbulent flow
Present case
5104
1.59
2.18
0.0714
engel & Cimbala, 2006
5104
2.2
A. Sohankar , 2006
5104
1.51
2.19
0.13

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2-D model study of the fuel toes
It is computationally expensive to carry out simulation of complete 3-D model of the flow through
the fuel toes in the inlet plenum. Geometry of the computationally domain is so complex that 3-D
model of the fuel toes with inlet plenum cannot be mapped with structured mesh completely. It
further increases the number of equations to be solved in 3-D model.

Region 2

Region 2

Region 1

Region 3

Region 3

Near wall mesh resolution


in the Region 1

Fig. 4 Grid arrangement for 2-D domain


To get flow pattern and understand the physics of the flow in the fuel toes, 2-D model study is
carried out. A computational plane passing through the symmetry plane of solution domain of inlet
plenum of the research reactor is taken for 2-D study to predict the flow characteristics and flow
pattern through the fuel toes. The computational domain consists of five fuel toes, two inlet
openings resembling the inlet openings of the complete 3-D model of inlet plenum. The coolant
enters into the 2-D solution domain from both the sides of the domain through 400NB pipe and
come out axially through the five fuel toes, located in the symmetry plane of inlet plenum of the
research reactor.
Dimension of the fuel toes, spacing between the fuel toes and dimension of solution domain are
taken same as that of symmetry plane of research reactor inlet plenum. More details about
computational domain are given in Fig. 2. The computational domain is mapped with non-uniform
structured mesh using GMesh open source meshing software. All the components in the
computational domain are regular in geometry (rectangular in cross section). The solution domain
is divided into the three regions for meshing as shown in Fig. 5. Region 1 is meshed with very fine
grid to accurately predict the pressure distribution on walls of the fuel toes and to accurately
calculate the forces acting on the fuel toes. Grid distribution used for region 2 is slightly coarser
than region, while region 3 is mapped with slightly coarse mesh in comparison to region 2.
Solution domain between the fuel toes is sufficiently resolved to predict the flow pattern and wake
formation between the fuel toes. Non-dimensional distance (y+) of first grid point from fuel toe
wall is approximately 0.30 for the meshing scheme used. With this meshing scheme, viscous sub
layer has been resolved to calculate the value of force coefficients accurately.
Boundary Conditions
p
= 0;
Inlet: U=3.14 m/s;
x
p
v
= 0;
= 0; 
Symmetry:
x
x

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Outlet: p=0;

Walls (no-slip): U=0;



p
= 0;
x

5th International Congress on Computational Mechanics and Simulation

(3)

1.0x106
Re1
Re2

8.0x105

4.0x10

Re3
Re4
Re5

Re

6.0x10

2.0x105

0.0

X
0

Y/D

Fig. 5 Non-dimensional velocity along


the fuel toe 1 through 5

Fig. 6 velocity contour diagram

Fig. 7 Streamline diagram

Initially, the case was run using Launder Gibson Reynolds Stress Transport (RSTM) turbulence
model. The solution was found to diverge due to first grid point in viscous sub layer. Wall
functions for RSTM model are not defined in viscous sub-layer region but are defined for log law
region above the surfaces of fuel toes. RSTM model gives very good result for meshing scheme
having first grid point in log law region. K- SST turbulence model predicts the values of flow
parameters very close to experimental value for y+ value less than 1. The present case has been run
using K- SST turbulence model with temporal discretisation of the order of 10-5 in OpenFOAM2.2.0 open source code using pisoFoam solver.

Results and discussion


The non-dimensional velocity variation along the center line of the each fuel toe is plotted in Fig. 5.
Here, the velocity variation for fuel toe 1 and 5 are found having same pattern. Similarly, the same
trend of velocity variation has been found in fuel toes 2 and 4. The maximum velocity has been
found in fuel toe 3 at exit point. The velocity is increased in the fuel toes almost 400% of the given

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inlet velocity due to the fuel toes narrow windows and also the area at outlet. Fig.6 represents the
velocity contours while streamline pattern has been shown in Fig.7. One primary vortex and some
secondary vortex are found at the bottom of the inlet plenum. The maximum velocity observed is
15 m/s at outlet. Vortex shedding is also observed behind the 25mm slits in 2-D model.
Thirteen numerical probes are kept in the solution domain to monitor the time history of velocity.
The flow has been found to be fully developed after 20 sec. Sampling for the velocity at locations
prone to have vortex structures has been started after 20 sec and sampling frequency for velocity
probes is kept 100Hz. The locations of velocity probes in computational domain are shown in Fig.
8. The time history of velocity collected by the probe 10 is shown in Fig. 10. Fast Fourier analysis
of the velocity signal is carried out and shown in Fig. 11.
Probe 12

Probe 6

800

Probe 2

Probe 3

75 25

Probe 8

Probe 10

Probe 4

63.8

Probe 11

Probe 7

Probe 9

Probe 13

Probe 1

500

Probe 5

72.3

Dimensions in mm
Fig. 8 Locations of probes in fuel toes

Power

Y-Velocity (m/s)

10
8
6
4
2
0
-2
-4
-6
-8
-10

55.8

56.0

56.2

56.4

56.6

Time (sec)

Fig. 10 Time history of velocity monitored by


probe 10

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Fig. 9 Sketch of a fuel Toe


4000
3500
3000
2500
2000
1500
1000
500
0
-500

42.55 (Hz)

10

20

30

40

50

Frequency (Hz)

Fig. 11 FFT of velocity signal monitored by


probe 10

5th International Congress on Computational Mechanics and Simulation


Coefficient of drag Cd for all the fuel toes in the symmetry plane have also been calculated and
shown in Fig. 12. It can be clearly observed from Fig. 12 that 1st fuel toe facing the inlet flow will
be subjected to very large force compared to other fuel toes and the inner most fuel (3rd fuel toe) toe
will be subjected to lowest transverse force.
2.5

2.5

2.0

Y-Velocity (m/s)

3.0

2.0

Cd

1.5
1.0
0.5

0.5
0.0
-0.5
-1.5

2
3
4
Fuel toe number

13.6

Fig. 12 Co-efficient of drag with respect to


position of fuel toes

13.8

14.0 14.2
Time (sec)

14.4

14.6

Fig. 13 Velocity Signal monitored by probe 10


at Re 2000
14

14.72 Hz

(Probe 5)
(Probe 10)
(Probe 13)

12

Strouhal Frequency

Power

1.0

-1.0

0.0

800
700
600
500
400
300
200
100
0
-100

1.5

10
8
6
4
2
0

10

20
30
40
Frequency (Hz)

50

Fig. 14 FFT of velocity signal monitored by


probe 10 at Re 2000

10

10

Re

10

10

Fig. 15 St vs Re for fuel toe 1

Relationship between Reynolds number and Strouhal frequency


In the design stage, it is proposed to maintain inlet velocity equal to 3.14m/s at entrance of inlet
plenum of the research reactor. On later stage, proposed flow rate may change due to alteration in
conceptual design of the inlet plenum of the research reactor, which ultimately affects the Reynolds
number. Strouhal frequency has a direct relationship with Reynolds number. A relation has been
established between Strouhal frequency at different probe locations and the Reynolds number.
Openings at inlet has been taken as characteristics length to calculate the Re number. Simulations
have been run for different Reynolds number and velocity at all the 13 probes locations have been
monitored for each case. The time history of velocity monitored by probe 10 at Re 2000 is as

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shown in Fig. 13 and FFT of the time history has been carried out to calculate the shedding
frequency at location of probe 10 as shown in Fig. 14.

Table 4: Strouhal frequency at different probe locations


Probe Number
Re

p1

p2

p3

p4

p5

p8

p9

p10

p11

p12

p13

1000

12.92

12.92

12.92

12.92

12.92

12.92

12.92

12.92

12.92

12.92

12.92

2000

4.68

4.68

4.68

4.68

4.68

4.68

4.68

5.86

5.86

6.25

5.86

5000

4.29

4.29

4.29

4.29

4.29

4.29

4.29

5.46

6.25

5.46

6.25

10000

4.14

4.14

4.14

4.14

4.14

4.14

4.14

5.46

5.46

5.46

5.46

20000

4.1

4.1

4.1

4.1

4.1

4.1

4.1

5.38

5.38

5.38

5.38

80000

4.06

4.06

4.06

4.06

4.06

4.06

4.06

5.34

5.31

5.31

5.31

1000000

4.12

4.12

4.12

4.12

4.12

4.12

4.12

5.37

5.37

5.37

5.37

1256000

4.11

4.11

4.11

4.11

4.11

4.11

4.11

5.42

5.42

5.42

5.42

2000000

3.87

3.87

3.87

3.87

3.87

3.87

3.87

2.56

2.56

3.43

2.5

3000000

1.16

1.16

1.16

1.16

1.16

1.16

1.16

0.16

0.16

0.16

0.16

Fuel toe 1
Fuel toe 2
Fuel toe 3

4
3

Cd

2
1
0

10

10

10
Re

10

10

Fig. 16 Drag coefficient with respect to Re for the three fuel toes
Table 4 and Fig. 15 show the Strouhal frequency monitored by the probes at different Re numbers
for 1st fuel toe1. Relationship between Strouhal frequency and Re for all other fuel toes shows the
same behaviour. It has been found that Strouhal frequency decreases with increase in Re upto 2000.
Between Re 2000 and 106, it remains constant. Beyond Re 106 , shedding frequency do not increase
significantly compared to increase in velocity and as a result Strouhal frequency is found to
decrease with increase in Re. In a particular fuel toe, Strouhal frequency has been found to increase

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5th International Congress on Computational Mechanics and Simulation


towards outlet direction as shown in Fig. 15. Coefficient of drag has also been calculated for all the
fuel toes at various Reynolds number and is shown in Fig. 16. Cd value is found to decrease from
Re 100 to Re 1000 and remains constant between Re 1000 and Re 3 106.

Conclusions
2-D simulations of flow in the longitudinal symmetry plane of inlet plenum of a typical research
reactor have been carried out to find the effect of flow induced vibration on the fuel toes. The
simulations have been carried out using pisoFoam solver of OpenFOAM 2.2.0 open source CFD
code.
(1) Detailed validation cases like flow past circular cylinder at Re 100, 150 and 3900 and flow past
square cylinder at Re 100 and 5104 has been studied. Lift coefficient, drag coefficient and
Strouhal frequency are evaluated for each validating case and compared with the corresponding
values given in literature. Results agreed well with literature.
(2) It is found that k- SST model is most efficient model among RANS models studied. The k-
SST model is computationally less expensive as less fine temporal discretization is required to
capture the required turbulence parameters.
(3) Effect of grid distribution is also studied and observed that minimum no of points required on
cylinder surface to capture vortex shedding accurately is approximately 120. Shedding
frequency has been found deviating from the experimental value with no. of grid points on
cylinder surface less than 120.
(4) Cd values for all the fuel toes in the symmetry plane of the inlet plenum have been calculated
and found that fuel toes facing the inlet openings is having highest Cd value.
(5) A relation between Strouhal frequency and Reynolds number for the research reactor fuel toes
has been established and it was found that Strouhal frequency decreases with increase in Re
upto 2000. Between Re 2000 and 106, it remains constant and beyond Re 106, Strouhal
frequency is found to decrease with increase in Re. In a particular fuel toe, Strouhal frequency
has been found to increase towards outlet direction.
(6) Cd values, for all the fuel toes have been calculated at different Reynolds number and it has
been found that Cd value decreases from Re 100 to Re 1000 and remains constant between Re
1000 and Re 3 106.
(7) The maximum velocity has been found at exit point of fuel toe 3. The increment in velocity for
the uniform flow at the outlet is 167% of inlet velocity. However, the slit arrangement increases
the flow velocity up to 400% of the inlet velocity. The presence of slit in computational domain
increases the velocity. The present study shows the need of CFD analysis in the present case to
provide concepts of sound structural design.

References
J. Franke, W. Frank, Large eddy simulation of the flow past a circular cylinder at Re=3900,
Journal of Wind Engineering and Industrial Aerodynamics, 2002, pp. 11911206
A.L.F. Lima E Silva, A. Silveira-Neto, J.J.R Damasceno, Numerical simulation of twodimensional flows over a circular cylinder using the immersed boundary method, Journal of
Computational Physics 189, 2003, pp.351370.

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