Comparison of the PLTEMP code flow instability predictions with measurements made with electrically heated channels for the advanced test reactor.

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When the University of Missouri Research Reactor (MURR) was designed in the 1960s the potential for fuel element burnout by a phenomenon referred to at that time as 'autocatalytic vapor binding' was of serious concern. This type of burnout was observed to occur at power levels considerably lower than those that were known to cause critical heat flux. The conversion of the MURR from HEU fuel to LEU fuel will probably require significant design changes, such as changes in coolant channel thicknesses, that could affect the thermal-hydraulic behavior of the reactor core. Therefore, the redesign of the MURR to accommodate ... continued below

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Feldman, E. (Nuclear Engineering Division) June 9, 2011.

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When the University of Missouri Research Reactor (MURR) was designed in the 1960s the potential for fuel element burnout by a phenomenon referred to at that time as 'autocatalytic vapor binding' was of serious concern. This type of burnout was observed to occur at power levels considerably lower than those that were known to cause critical heat flux. The conversion of the MURR from HEU fuel to LEU fuel will probably require significant design changes, such as changes in coolant channel thicknesses, that could affect the thermal-hydraulic behavior of the reactor core. Therefore, the redesign of the MURR to accommodate an LEU core must address the same issues of fuel element burnout that were of concern in the 1960s. The Advanced Test Reactor (ATR) was designed at about the same time as the MURR and had similar concerns with regard to fuel element burnout. These concerns were addressed in the ATR by two groups of thermal-hydraulic tests that employed electrically heated simulated fuel channels. The Croft (1964), Reference 1, tests were performed at ANL. The Waters (1966), Reference 2, tests were performed at Hanford Laboratories in Richland Washington. Since fuel element surface temperatures rise rapidly as burnout conditions are approached, channel surface temperatures were carefully monitored in these experiments. For self-protection, the experimental facilities were designed to cut off the electric power when rapidly increasing surface temperatures were detected. In both the ATR reactor and in the tests with electrically heated channels, the heated length of the fuel plate was 48 inches, which is about twice that of the MURR. Whittle and Forgan (1967) independently conducted tests with electrically heated rectangular channels that were similar to the tests by Croft and by Walters. In the Whittle and Forgan tests the heated length of the channel varied among the tests and was between 16 and 24 inches. Both Waters and Whittle and Forgan show that the cause of the fuel element burnout is due to a form of flow instability. Whittle and Forgan provide a formula that predicts when this flow instability will occur. This formula is included in the PLTEMP/ANL code.Error! Reference source not found. Olson has shown that the PLTEMP/ANL code accurately predicts the powers at which flow instability occurs in the Whittle and Forgan experiments. He also considered the electrically heated tests performed in the ANS Thermal-Hydraulic Test Loop at ORNL and report by M. Siman-Tov et al. The purpose of this memorandum is to demonstrate that the PLTEMP/ANL code accurately predicts the Croft and the Waters tests. This demonstration should provide sufficient confidence that the PLTEMP/ANL code can adequately predict the onset of flow instability for the converted MURR. The MURR core uses light water as a coolant, has a 24-inch active fuel length, downward flow in the core, and an average core velocity of about 7 m/s. The inlet temperature is about 50 C and the peak outlet is about 20 C higher than the inlet for reactor operation at 10 MW. The core pressures range from about 4 to about 5 bar. The peak heat flux is about 110 W/cm{sup 2}. Section 2 describes the mechanism that causes flow instability. Section 3 describes the Whittle and Forgan formula for flow instability. Section 4 briefly describes both the Croft and the Waters experiments. Section 5 describes the PLTEMP/ANL models. Section 6 compares the PLTEMP/ANL predictions based on the Whittle and Forgan formula with the Croft measurements. Section 7 does the same for the Waters measurements. Section 8 provides the range of parameters for the Whittle and Forgan tests. Section 9 discusses the results and provides conclusions. In conclusion, although there is no single test that by itself closely matches the limiting conditions in the MURR, the preponderance of measured data and the ability of the Whittle and Forgan correlation, as implemented in PLTEMP/ANL, to predict the onset of flow instability for these tests leads one to the conclusion that the same method should be able to predict the onset of flow instability in the MURR reasonably well.

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  • Report No.: ANL/RERTR/TM-11-23
  • Grant Number: DE-AC02-06CH11357
  • DOI: 10.2172/1018509 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 1018509
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc839425

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  • June 9, 2011

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  • May 19, 2016, 3:16 p.m.

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  • May 23, 2016, 6:36 p.m.

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Feldman, E. (Nuclear Engineering Division). Comparison of the PLTEMP code flow instability predictions with measurements made with electrically heated channels for the advanced test reactor., report, June 9, 2011; United States. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc839425/: accessed October 15, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.