Analysis of Flow and Heat Transfer in the U.S. EPR Heavy Reflector

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Virginia Tech

The U.S. Evolutionary Power Reactor (EPR) is a new, large-scale pressurized water reactor made by AREVA NP Inc. Surrounding the core of this reactor is a steel wall structure sitting inside called the heavy reflector. The purpose of the heavy reflector is to reduce the neutron flux escaping the core and thus increase the efficiency of the reactor while reducing the damage to the structures surrounding the core as well. The heavy reflector is heated due to absorption of the gamma radiation, and this heat is removed by the water flowing through 832 cooling channels drilled through the heavy reflector.

In this project, the temperature distribution in the heavy reflector was investigated to ascertain that the maximum temperature does not exceed the allowable temperature of 350 C, with the intent of modifying the flow distribution in the cooling channels to alleviate any hot spots. The analysis was conducted in two steps. First, the flow distribution in the cooling channels was calculated to test for any maldistribution. The temperature distribution in the heavy reflector was then calculated by simulating the conjugate heat transfer with this flow distribution as the coolant input.

The turbulent nature of the flow through the cooling channels made the calculation of the flow distribution computationally expensive. In order to resolve this problem, a simplification method using the "equivalent flow resistance" was developed. The method was validated by conducting a few case studies. Using the simplified model, the flow distribution was calculated and was found to be fairly uniform.

The conjugate heat transfer calculation was conducted. The same simplification method used in the flow distribution analysis could not be applied to this calculation; therefore, the computational cost of this model was reduced by lowering the grid density in the fluid region. The results showed that the maximum temperature in the heavy reflector is 347.7 C, which is below the maximum allowable temperature of 350 C. Additional studies were conducted to test the sensitivity of the maximum temperature with change in the flow distribution in the cooling channels. Through multiple calculations, the maximum temperature did not drop more than 3 C; therefore, it was concluded that the flow distribution in the cooling channels does not have significant effect on the maximum temperature in the heavy reflector.

nuclear, conjugate heat transfer, Computational fluid dynamics, fluid dynamics, cooling channels, PWR, heavy reflector, turbulent flow