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Research Papers

Numerical Study of High-Temperature and High-Velocity Gaseous Hydrogen Flow in a Cooling Channel of a Nuclear Thermal Rocket Core

[+] Author and Article Information
Kazim M. Akyuzlu

Mem. ASME Professor Department of Mechanical Engineering,
University of New Orleans, New Orleans, LA 70124
e-mail: kakyuzlu@uno.edu

Manuscript received January 31, 2015; final manuscript received June 10, 2015; published online September 3, 2015. Assoc. Editor: Jovica R. Riznic.

ASME J of Nuclear Rad Sci 1(4), 041006 (Sep 03, 2015) (13 pages) Paper No: NERS-15-1014; doi: 10.1115/1.4030833 History: Received January 31, 2015; Accepted June 11, 2015; Online September 16, 2015

Two mathematical models (a one-dimensional (1D) and a two-dimensional (2D)) were adopted to study, numerically, the thermal-hydrodynamic characteristics of flow inside the cooling channels of a nuclear thermal rocket (NTR) engine. In the present study, only one of the cooling channels of the reactor core is simulated. The 1D model adopted here assumes the flow in this cooling channel to be unsteady, compressible, turbulent, and subsonic. The governing equations of the compressible flow in the cooling channel are discretized using a second-order accurate (MacCormack) finite-difference scheme. The steady-state results of the proposed model were compared to the predictions by a commercial CFD code. The 2D CFD solution was obtained in two domains: the coolant (gaseous hydrogen) and the ZrC fuel cladding. The wall heat flux which varied along the channel length (as described by the nuclear variation in the nuclear power generation) was given as an input. Numerical experiments were carried out using both codes to simulate the thermal and hydrodynamic characteristics of the flow inside a single-cooling channel of the reactor for a typical Nuclear Engine for Rocket Vehicle Application (NERVA)-type NTR engine. It is concluded that both models predict successfully the steady-state axial distributions of temperature, pressure, density, and velocity of gaseous hydrogen flow in the NTR cooling channel.

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Figures

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Fig. 4

NERVA NTR engine power and temperature distributions [5]

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Fig. 3

NTR fission reactor fuel element and tie tube cross sections [3]

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Fig. 2

NTR fission reactor cross section [4]

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Fig. 1

Typical NERVA-derived NTR engine [2]

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Fig. 7

Effect of constant properties (at 300 K) versus variable fluid properties (cv, k, and ν) on mean fluid temperature distribution

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Fig. 8

Heat flux distribution along the cooling channel of an NTR core

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Fig. 5

Cross-sectional view of the 3D computational domain for the 2D two-domain model (solid wall shown in gray color)

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Fig. 6

Isometric view of the 3D computational domain for the 2S two-domain model

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Fig. 21

Comparison of the mean fluid temperature distributions as predicted by the 1D model, 2D two-domain model, and the experiment

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Fig. 9

Pressure distributions along the axial length as predicted by the 1D and 2D models

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Fig. 10

Density distributions along the axial length as predicted by the 1D and 2D models

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Fig. 11

Axial velocity distributions along the axial length as predicted by the 1D and 2D models

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Fig. 12

Mean fluid temperature distributions along the axial length as predicted by the 1D and 2D models

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Fig. 13

Pressure distribution along the axial length as predicted by the 2D two-domain model

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Fig. 14

Density distribution along the axial length as predicted by the 2D two-domain model

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Fig. 15

Velocity distribution along the axial length as predicted by the 2D two-domain model

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Fig. 16

Temperature distribution along the axial length as predicted by the 2D two-domain model

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Fig. 17

Inner and outer wall temperature distributions along the axial length as predicted by the 2D two-domain model

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Fig. 18

Fluid temperature profile at the outlet as predicted by the 2D two-domain model

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Fig. 19

Axial velocity profile at the outlet as predicted by the 2D two-domain model

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Fig. 20

Fluid temperature contours inside the cooling channel predicted by the 2D two-domain model

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Fig. 22

Results of the effect of inlet mass flow rate study

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Fig. 23

Results of the effect of wall heat flux study

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