Feasibility of full-core pin resolved CFD simulations of small modular reactor with momentum sources

Jun Fang, Dillon R. Shaver, Ananias Tomboulides, Misun Min, Paul Fischer, Yu Hsiang Lan, Ronald Rahaman, Paul Romano, Sofiane Benhamadouche, Yassin A. Hassan, Adam Kraus, Elia Merzari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Complex flow structure interactions and heat transfer processes take place in nuclear reactor cores. Given the extreme pressure/temperature and radioactive conditions inside the core, numerical simulations offer an attractive and sometimes more feasible approach to study the related flow and heat transfer phenomena in addition to the experiments. Under the Exascale Computing Project, the full-core simulation of a small modular reactor (SMR) has been pursued coupling Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) and neutronics. A key aspect of the modeling of SMR fuel assemblies is the presence of spacer grids and the mixing promoted by mixing vanes or the equivalent. A reduced order methodology is adopted based on momentum sources to mimic the mixing of the vanes. The momentum sources have been carefully calibrated with detailed Large Eddy Simulations (LES) of spacer grids performed with Nek5000. Modeling the spacer grid and mixing vanes (SGMV) effect without body-fitted computational grid avoids the excessive costs in resolving the local geometric details, and thus supports the simulation to be scaled up to the full core. Besides the progress on momentum source modeling, this paper also features the first full-core pin resolved CFD simulation ever performed to the authors’ knowledge. This represents a significant advancement in capability for the CFD of nuclear reactors, which will hopefully serve as an inspiration for further integrating high-fidelity numerical simulations in actual engineering designs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number111143
JournalNuclear Engineering and Design
StatePublished - Jul 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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


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