Direct Numerical Simulation of Low and Unitary Prandtl Number Fluids in Reactor Downcomer Geometry

Cheng Kai Tai, Tri Nguyen, Arsen S. Iskhakov, Elia Merzari, Nam T. Dinh, Igor A. Bolotnov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Mixed convection of low and unitary Prandtl fluids in a vertical passage is fundamental to passive heat removal in liquid metal and gas-cooled advanced reactor designs. Capturing the influence of buoyancy in flow and heat transfer in engineering analysis is hence a cornerstone to the safety of the next-generation reactor. However, accurate prediction of the mixed convection phenomenon has eluded current turbulence and heat transfer modeling approaches, yet further development and validation of modeling methods is limited by a scarcity of high-fidelity data pertaining to reactor heat transfer. In this work, a series of direct numerical simulations was conducted to investigate the influence of buoyancy on descending flow of liquid sodium, lead, and unitary Prandtl fluid in a differentially heated channel that represents the reactor downcomer region. From time-averaged statistics, flow-opposing/aiding buoyant plumes near the heated/cooled wall distort the mean velocity distribution, which gives rise to promotion/suppression of turbulence intensity and modification of turbulent shear stress and heat flux distribution. Frequency analysis of time series also suggests the existence of large-scale convective and thermal structures rising from the heated wall. As a general trend, fluids of lower Prandtl number were found to be more susceptible to the buoyancy effect due to stronger differential buoyancy across the channel. On the other hand, the effectiveness of convective heat transfer of the three studied fluids showed a distinct trend against the influence of buoyancy. Physical reasoning on observation of the Nusselt number trend is also discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalNuclear Technology
StateAccepted/In press - 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Nuclear and High Energy Physics
  • Nuclear Energy and Engineering
  • Condensed Matter Physics

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