Purdue University Graduate School
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Effect of Geometry on the Evolution of DLOFC Transients in High Temperature Helium Loop

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posted on 2024-04-17, 13:26 authored by Broderick Michael SiehBroderick Michael Sieh

Generation IV high-temperature gas-cooled reactors (HTGR) are designed to exhibit passive safety under all off-normal circumstances. One such scenario, known as depressurized loss of forced circulation (DLOFC), occurs after a break in the coaxial inlet/outlet header. As the headers are traditionally located at the base of the reactor vessel, the low-density helium coolant is preserved in the core following the initial rupture accident. Upon depressurization, however, air from the surrounding reactor environment slowly enters the coolant channel through molecular diffusion. As the incoming fluid continues to deplete the helium concentration, the onset of natural circulation (ONC) can occur causing bulk air ingress leading to the oxidation and degradation of core components. Therefore, investigating methods to improve the time to ONC is critical in impeding reactor core component damage brought about by DLOFC in an HTGR.

The Transformational Challenge Reactor (TCR) has similar features to those of an HTGR, but the primary difference is the use of a more complex, additively manufactured (AM) fuel geometry. The more compact, AM, ceramic fuel elements can be conveniently produced with optimally configured channels that suppress the air ingress progress and improve thermofluidic performance. DLOFC and air ingress are experimentally studied in a scaled HTGR flow test setup. Distributed temperature measurements and time to ONC data are collected for the experiments conducted. Multiple geometries are analyzed throughout the investigation. The thermal transient and time to ONC data gathered for the different test geometries and temperatures are compared. The results show that the AM and pebble bed elements deter ONC significantly longer than the baseline geometry representative of a prismatic fuel coolant channel. The AM part delayed ONC as compared to the pebble bed test piece at higher temperatures. The distributed temperature sensor shows intra-leg circulation at higher temperature tests.

Thermophysical properties of the 316 stainless steel AM component are compared to those of a standard 316 stainless steel round bar. The properties ascertained include the density, emissivity, specific heat, and thermal conductivity. The density of the AM part is 1.5% greater than the density of the standard bar. The emissivity of the AM part is determined to be over three times greater than the emissivity of the polished standard stainless steel round. The specific heat of the AM element is 16% greater than that of the standard 316 stainless steel specific heat. The thermal conductivity of the AM component is measured to be within 1.5% of the standard 316 stainless steel round bar thermal conductivity.


U.S. Department of Energy, Nuclear Energy University Program, Award Number DE-NE0009153

U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Grant Number 31310021M0044


Degree Type

  • Master of Science in Nuclear Engineering


  • Nuclear Engineering

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Dr. Hitesh Bindra

Additional Committee Member 2

Dr. Stylianos Chatzidakis

Additional Committee Member 3

Dr. Amy M. Marconnet