Analysis of low Reynolds number turbulent flow phenomena in nuclear fuel pin subassemblies of tight lattice configuration

H. Ninokata, E. Merzari, A. Khakim

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58 Scopus citations


This paper focuses on the numerical simulation of low Reynolds (Re) number turbulence flow phenomena in tightly packed fuel pin subassemblies and in channels of irregular shape such as eccentric annuli. Highlighted phenomena include (i) turbulence-driven secondary flows inside a subchannel, (ii) local turbulent-laminar transition in the narrow gap region, and (iii) global flow pulsation across the gap along the channel length. These phenomena are simulated by Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD). The CFD methods employed here are those of Direct Numerical Simulation (DNS) of turbulence, Large Eddy Simulation (LES) and Reynolds-Averaged Navier-Stokes (RANS) equations approach. Complicated turbulent flow structure is due to strong anisotropy in the non-uniform channel geometry that is characterized by wide open channels connected by a narrow gap. The secondary flows in subchannels play an important role in transporting small eddies generated in the wider region toward the narrow gap. Periodic cross-flow oscillations are calculated to appear in the vicinity of the gap region, and the coherent structure is transported in the main flow direction. This macroscopic flow process prevails in the low Re turbulent flow regime and is called as global flow pulsation. Finally a brief discussion is made on their influences onto the mixing between two subchannels that must be taken into account during natural circulation decay heat removals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)855-866
Number of pages12
JournalNuclear Engineering and Design
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Nuclear and High Energy Physics
  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • General Materials Science
  • Nuclear Energy and Engineering


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