CFD applications in the Pebble Bed Modular Reactor Project: a decade of progress

15 November 2012

Of all the systems and components that have to be designed for a nuclear plant, the Reactor Unit is the most significant since it is at the very heart of the plant. At Pebble Bed Modular Reactor (Pty) Ltd. (PBMR), the design of the Reactor Unit is conducted with the aid of extensive analysis work. Due to the rapid computational improvements, the analysis capabilities have had to evolve rather significantly over the last decade. This paper evaluates the evolution of RU Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) analysis in particular and presents a historical timeline of the analyses conducted at PBMR. The influence of advances in the hardware and software applications on the evolution of the analysis capabilities is also discussed. When evaluating the evolution of analysis, it is important to look not only at the advances in mesh generation and the representation of the geometry, but also at the improvements regarding the physics that were included in the models. The discussion evaluates the improvements from the pre-conceptual analyses, the concept design, the basic design and finally, the detail design. It is however important to note that the focus of this research was on establishing a methodology for the integrated CFD analysis of High Temperature Reactors. It is recognized however that results from this research can currently only be used to investigate and understand trends and behaviors rather than absolute values. It was therefore required to also launch an extensive V&V program of which the focus was to verify the approach and validate the methodology that was established. The final aim was therefore to combine the research into the methodology with that of V&V in an effort to determine uncertainty bands which would enable the researcher to supply absolute results with an uncertainty value attached.