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Evolution of Design Methodologies for Next Generation of Reactor Pressure Vessels and Extensive Role of Thermal-Hydraulic Numerical Tools

Serge Bellet, Nicolas Goreaud, Norbert Nicaise

Nuclear Technology / Volume 152 / Number 2 / November 2005 / Pages 196-209

Technical Paper / Nuclear Reactor Thermal Hydraulics

The thermal-hydraulic design of the first pressurized water reactors was mainly based on an experimental approach, with a large series of tests on the main equipment [control rod guide tubes, reactor pressure vessel (RPV) plenums, etc.] to check performance.

Development of computational fluid dynamics codes and computers now allows for complex simulations of hydraulics phenomena. Provided adequate qualification, these numerical tools are an efficient means to determine hydraulics in the given design and to perform sensitivities for optimization of new designs. Experiments always play their role, first for qualification and then for validation at the last stage of the design. The design of the European Pressurized Water Reactor (EPR), jointly developed by Framatome ANP, Electricité de France (EDF), and the German utilities, is based on both hydraulics calculations and experiments handled in a complementary approach.

This paper describes the collective effort launched by Framatome ANP and EDF on hydraulics calculations for the RPV of the EPR. It concerns three-dimensional calculations of RPV inlets, including the cold legs, the RPV downcomer and lower plenum, and the RPV upper plenum up to and including the hot legs. It covers normal operating conditions but also accidental conditions such as pressurized thermal shock in a small-break loss-of-coolant accident. Those hydraulics studies have provided much useful information for the mechanical design of RPV internals.

 
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