Purdue University Graduate School
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posted on 2022-12-08, 14:49 authored by Adam John DixAdam John Dix

 Wire-wrapped rod bundles are often used in nuclear reactors operating in a fast neutron spectrum, as designers seek to minimize neutron scattering by packing the fuel pins into a hexagonal lattice. Bundles with many rods have extensively been studied as representative of large fuel assemblies, however far fewer experiments have investigated bundles with 7 rods (7-pin bundles). The large difference in subchannel number between these bundles leads to 7-pin bundles having different pressure drop characteristics. The Versatile Test Reactor (VTR) sodium cartridge loop proposes to use a 7-pin bundle as its experimental core region, highlighting the need for additional data and models. The current work seeks to establish a better understanding of the pressure drop in 7-pin wire-wrapped rod bundles through scaled experiments and a novel pressure drop model. A scaling analysis is first performed to demonstrate the applicability of water experiments to the VTR sodium cartridge loop, before an experimental test facility is designed and constructed. Experiments are then performed at a range of Reynolds numbers to determine the pressure drop. Current models are able to predict the data well, but are complex and can be difficult to use. A comparatively simpler model is developed, based on exact laminar solutions of a simplified rod bundle, which also offers a theoretical lower bound for the pressure drop in wire-wrapped bundles. The proposed model compares well with the existing experimental database, able to predict bundle friction factor with an average absolute percent difference of 10.8%. This accuracy is also similar to existing correlations, while relying on fewer empirical coefficients. The theoretical lower bound is also used to identify several datasets in literature that may feature data that is systemically lower than the true pressure drop, which agrees with previous observations in literature. 


Degree Type

  • Master of Science


  • Nuclear Engineering

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Seungjin Kim

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee co-chair

Mamoru Ishii

Additional Committee Member 2

Mitchell Farmer