Thermal Hydraulic Analysis of a Reduced Scale High Temperature Gas-Cooled Reactor Test Facility and its Prototype with MELCOR
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Pursuant to the energy policy act of 2005, the High Temperature Gas-Cooled Reactor (HTGR) has been selected as the Very High Temperature Reactor (VHTR) that will become the Next Generation Nuclear Plant (NGNP). Although plans to build a demonstration plant at Idaho National Laboratories (INL) are currently on hold, a cooperative agreement on HTGR research between the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and several academic investigators remains in place. One component of this agreement relates to validation of systems-level computer code modeling capabilities in anticipation of the eventual need to perform HTGR licensing analyses. Because the NRC has used MELCOR for LWR licensing in the past and because MELCOR was recently updated to include gas-cooled reactor physics models, MELCOR is among the system codes of interest in the cooperative agreement. The impetus for this thesis was a code-to-experiment validation study wherein MELCOR computer code predictions were to be benchmarked against experimental data from a reduced-scale HTGR testing apparatus called the High Temperature Test Facility (HTTF). For various reasons, HTTF data is not yet available from facility designers at Oregon State University, and hence the scope of this thesis was narrowed to include only computational studies of the HTTF and its prototype, General Atomics’ Modular High Temperature Gas-Cooled Reactor (MHTGR). Using the most complete literature references available for MHTGR design and using preliminary design information on the HTTF, MELCOR input decks for both systems were developed. Normal and off-normal system operating conditions were modeled via implementation of appropriate boundary and inititial conditions. MELCOR Predictions of system response for steady-state, pressurized conduction cool-down (PCC), and depressurized conduction cool-down (DCC) conditions were checked against nominal design parameters, physical intuition, and some computational results available from previous RELAP5-3D analyses at INL. All MELCOR input decks were successfully built and all scenarios were successfully modeled under certain assumptions. Given that the HTTF input deck is preliminary and was based on dated references, the results were altogether imperfect but encouraging since no indications of as yet unknown deficiencies in MELCOR modeling capability were observed. Researchers at TAMU are in a good position to revise the MELCOR models upon receipt of new information and to move forward with MELCOR-to-HTTF benchmarking when and if test data becomes available.
Beeny, Bradley Aaron 1988- (2012). Thermal Hydraulic Analysis of a Reduced Scale High Temperature Gas-Cooled Reactor Test Facility and its Prototype with MELCOR. Master's thesis, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from