CCP for nuclear thermal hydraulics - supporting next generation civil nuclear reactors (CCP NTH)

Lead Research Organisation: University of Sheffield
Department Name: Mechanical Engineering

Abstract

Nuclear energy is a CO2 neutral energy generation technology and will play an important role in reducing green-house gas emissions to meet government and societal targets and improve the quality of life. However, a main concern of the nuclear energy is its safety. The next generation nuclear reactors under development to be deployed in the next decades are aimed at achieving inherent safety using technologies such as passive cooling. Such systems require a significantly advanced thermal hydraulics approach to deal with much higher temperature and pressure systems and/or non-conventional coolants such as liquid metal and molten salts. The traditional methodology is insufficient to deal with the new challenges to be encountered.

The proposed CCP for nuclear thermal hydraulics is aimed at building and supporting a community of researchers and engineers for developing and maintaining computational methods and software packages to modernise the nuclear thermal hydraulics tools to meet the demands imposed from the development of advanced next-generation nuclear reactor systems. The activities of the proposed CCP are grouped into two work packages. WP1 is aimed at community building and networking through a variety of activities and events. These include annual technical meetings, special topic, cross-CCP and international workshops, training courses, international and UK visit/exchange programs, benchmarking exercises and various outreach activities. WP2 is aimed at development and maintenance of methodology and computer code for the community through services provided by STFC's Computational Science Centre for Research Communities. The work includes supporting, developing and maintaining (i) robust (reliable, affordable and user-friendly) CFD methodologies and tools for the analysis of reactor systems and (ii) high fidelity modelling and simulation methods and software tools, focusing on a community DNS code, aimed at providing new understanding and benchmarking database for modelling validation and engineering correlation development. The CCP will also explore innovative and disruptive methodologies aimed at bringing a step-change in computational thermal hydraulics analysis.

The proposed CCP is formed from academic and industrial partners. The initial academic memberships are Universities of Manchester, Sheffield, Leeds, Liverpool John Moores, Cambridge, Oxford, Bangor, Queen Mary, Imperial Colleague London and STFC Daresbury Laboratory. The industrial partners are EDF Energy, Frazer-Nash Consultancy, Moltex, Rolls-Royce and Wood Nuclear. The CCP also includes an international partner and advisor from Penn State University/Argonne National Laboratory. The CCP will encourage any interested researchers and engineers to become a member when it is up and running and any activities organised by the CCP are open to the entire community.

Planned Impact

The activities and outputs of the CCP will have significant impact on the society, economy, people (training) and knowledge generation. Fundamentally, the participation and enthusiastic support of the industrial partners will naturally form a direct route to impact, while many of the CCP activities are themselves essential pathways to impact.

The purpose of the proposed CCP is to develop and maintain advanced tools for the development of next-generation inherently safe nuclear reactor systems, and the success of the proposed CCP will directly contribute to improving the quality of life. Specific activities have been included in the proposed CCP to enhance and speed up the impact on the society. We have planned to use a variety of outreach activities to reach out the public. These include making use of the open days and public lectures organised by STFC and universities. We will also create a non-expert section on the CCP website explaining the next generation systems. Additionally, the CCP will use their collective expertise to positively influence the technology and investment policies through inviting representatives from BEIS, EPSRC and Office of Nuclear Regulation (ONR) to participate in our meetings. Such influences will also be achieved through memberships of government policy advisory committees, e.g., Hector Iacovides and Eugene Shwageraus are members of Nuclear Innovation and Research Advisory Board.

The government has an ambition to establish the UK as a significant partner in the global deployment of advanced nuclear reactor technologies. Thanks to the close involvement of the UK nuclear industry, the outputs generated from the proposed CCP will surely and effectively be transferred to the industry to bring commercial benefit to the UK economy. Industry outreach days will be organised to deepen industry involvement. The industry partners will directly influence the choice of the benchmarking cases and work by the CoSeC ensuring the industry's current and long term commercial needs met. Additionally, all the Investigators and many other members of the Working Group have worked extensively with the nuclear industry through research projects, PhD supervision and consultancy, which will provide an effective route for the outputs of the proposed CCP to be transferred to the industry.

Many of the activities will contribute to maintaining technical knowledge and people in computational thermal hydraulics in the UK, which is a huge challenge to meet the demands from the new builds of nuclear reactors and future development. In particular, some activities are designed to attracting new graduates to join this profession and providing them with good training opportunities. Examples include training courses, prizes for best presentations at technical meetings, and encouragement for PhDs to participate in benchmarking. The Working Group includes early career researcher (ECR) members who will be encouraged to organise networking activities among themselves.

Alongside the development of software codes, activities organised by the proposed CCP and the collaborations within the community are expected to also lead to the creation of new knowledge in areas of modelling methodologies, numerical methods and the understanding of the thermal hydraulics physics. Such new knowledge will be effectively recorded and disseminated through a number of means, including, annual technical meetings, the CCP website and publications in journals. Benchmarking exercises to be organised will particularly contribute to the generation of knowledge on the suitability of computer codes, physical models and numerical methods on typical problems encountered in nuclear systems. Cross CCP workshops will be organised to facilitate new knowledge generation and transfer.

Publications

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