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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/T002395/1
Title: Liquid metal-cooled fast reactor instrumentation technology development - CFD model development and validation
Principal Investigator: He, Professor S
Other Investigators:
Moulinec, Dr C
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Mechanical Engineering
Organisation: University of Sheffield
Scheme: Standard Research - NR1
Starts: 01 January 2020 Ends: 31 December 2023 Value (£): 367,531
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Energy - Nuclear
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
06 May 2019 NEUP Phase 5 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
The UK government considers nuclear energy to play an important role in the country's energy mix to establish a secure, environmentally friendly and diverse energy portfolio and meet the future energy demand. There are currently two reactors being built in the southwest of the UK and a number of others currently under development. In order to ensure nuclear energy safer and economically competitive, the Generation IV International Forum (GIF) has been formed, which has selected six advanced nuclear reactor designs to be the focus of the development by its member countries. Two of them use liquid metal as primary-circuit coolant, i.e., the sodium-cooled fast reactor (SFR) and the lead-cooled fast reactor (LFR). In the UK, BEIS has recently supported feasibility studies for eight advanced modular reactors (AMRs), three of which are Liquid Metal-cooled Fast Reactor (LMFRs).

The knowledge gaps and modelling challenges in LMFR are broadly speaking related to two facts. Firstly, the heat transfer characteristic of liquid metal is markedly different from that of the conventional fluids (air and water) due to the extremely low Prandtl number, which makes the conventional turbulence models invalid under most conditions. Secondly, the special pool-type design gives rise to thermal hydraulic phenomena including natural circulation and stratification, which are unique for such reactors. Additionally, there is a lack of benchmarking data due to the difficulties associated with the measure of the flow and thermal fields in liquid metal.

This proposal, developed in response to the EPSRC's collaborative research call on 'UK/US NEUP 2019', is aimed at addressing the above challenges. This joint research project will focus on developing instrumentation technology and associated modelling for liquid metal cooled fast reactor. The US partners will carry out experimental investigations, while the UK partners will develop computational tools for high fidelity modelling and conjugate heat transfer analysis.

High fidelity large eddy simulation (LES) of stagnation and stratification flow of liquid metal will be carried out to complement physical experiment to provide valuable detailed data for turbulence and engineering model development, as well as to help in advancing the knowledge in such complex flow phenomena. This will be followed by refinement and validation of the 'conventional' CFD models using experimental and numerical data to develop new understanding of turbulent models and numerical methods for the simulation of liquid metal flows. Finally, a highly innovative conjugate heat transfer model of the sodium-to-supercritical-CO2 compact printed circuit heat exchanger (PCHE) will be developed based on the novel coarse-grid CFD recently developed and the immerse boundary method. If successful, they represent a major advancement in modelling of heat exchangers with highly complex geometry and physics and can be used to assist the design and optimisation of such systems effectively.

Key Findings
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Organisation Website: http://www.shef.ac.uk