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A Comparison of Natural Convection Heat Transfer for a Staggered Versus an Aligned Array of Horizontal Spent Nuclear Fuel Rods Within a Rectangular Enclosure

C. Eric Triplett, Robert E. Canaan, Dale E. Klein

Nuclear Technology

Volume 130 / Number 1 / April 2000 / Pages 99-110


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Natural convection heat transfer was experimentally investigated in a staggered array of heated cylinders, oriented horizontally within a rectangular isothermal enclosure. The test conditions were characteristic of a spent-fuel assembly during transport or horizontal dry storage. The assembly was configured with a pitch-to-diameter ratio of 1.33 and backfilled with pressurized helium or nitrogen. The backfill pressure was varied between 1 and 5 atm, while the assembly power was varied between 1 and 5 W per heater rod. The resulting data are presented in the form of Nusselt-Rayleigh number correlations, where the Nusselt number has been corrected for thermal radiation using a numerical technique. The staggered-array data are compared to previous data for a similar-pitch aligned rod array (a simulated boiling water reactor fuel assembly) to determine if convective heat transfer is enhanced or hindered in a staggered configuration. For the overall array, both the staggered and aligned configurations yield Nusselt-Rayleigh curves with a three-regime trend, which suggests distinct conduction and convection regimes separated by a transition regime. For lower Rayleigh numbers (<106), representative of the conduction regime, the aligned-array Nusselt number is 10 to 12% higher than the corresponding staggered-array value. However, in the convection regime at higher Rayleigh numbers, the staggered-array Nusselt number slightly exceeds the aligned- array Nusselt number. This is attributed to the fact that the staggered array begins to transition into the convection regime at lower Rayleigh number than the aligned array. For both configurations, the slope of the Nusselt-Rayleigh curve in the convection regime suggests turbulent flow conditions.

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