Advanced multiphysics coupling for LWR fuel performance analysis

J. D. Hales, M. R. Tonks, F. N. Gleicher, B. W. Spencer, S. R. Novascone, R. L. Williamson, G. Pastore, D. M. Perez

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    27 Scopus citations


    Even the most basic nuclear fuel analysis is a multiphysics undertaking, as a credible simulation must consider at a minimum coupled heat conduction and mechanical deformation. The need for more realistic fuel modeling under a variety of conditions invariably leads to a desire to include coupling between a more complete set of the physical phenomena influencing fuel behavior, including neutronics, thermal hydraulics, and mechanisms occurring at lower length scales. This paper covers current efforts toward coupled multiphysics LWR fuel modeling in three main areas. The first area covered in this paper concerns thermomechanical coupling. The interaction of these two physics, particularly related to the feedback effect associated with heat transfer and mechanical contact at the fuel/clad gap, provides numerous computational challenges. An outline is provided of an effective approach used to manage the nonlinearities associated with an evolving gap in BISON, a nuclear fuel performance application. A second type of multiphysics coupling described here is that of coupling neutronics with thermomechanical LWR fuel performance. DeCART, a high-fidelity core analysis program based on the method of characteristics, has been coupled to BISON. DeCART provides sub-pin level resolution of the multigroup neutron flux, with resonance treatment, during a depletion or a fast transient simulation. Two-way coupling between these codes was achieved by mapping fission rate density and fast neutron flux fields from DeCART to BISON and the temperature field from BISON to DeCART while employing a Picard iterative algorithm. Finally, the need for multiscale coupling is considered. Fission gas production and evolution significantly impact fuel performance by causing swelling, a reduction in the thermal conductivity, and fission gas release. The mechanisms involved occur at the atomistic and grain scale and are therefore not the domain of a fuel performance code. However, it is possible to use lower length scale models such as those used in the mesoscale MARMOT code to compute average properties, e.g. swelling or thermal conductivity. These may then be used by an engineering-scale model. Examples of this type of multiscale, multiphysics modeling are shown.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)98-110
    Number of pages13
    JournalAnnals of Nuclear Energy
    StatePublished - Jul 28 2015

    All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

    • Nuclear Energy and Engineering


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