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Neutronic Design Study and Natural Circulation Aspect of Long Life Small PWR

with (Th,U)O2 Fuel

Topan Setiadipura1, Utaja2
Computational Field, Center of Nuclear Informatic Development BATAN INDONESIA
Telephone: + 62 21 756 0905
Fax : + 62 21 756 0923
Email : ;


Development of an innovative nuclear reactor design, Long Life Small PWR with (Th,U)O2 fuel is in
progress. Small long-live nuclear power plant with moderate economical aspect is an important
candidate for electric power generation in remote area, such as many part outside Java-Bali area in
Indonesia. The neutronic aspect of the reactor design already done and giving an optimum cylindrical
core design with diameter 100cm and height 200cm and 0.7 dk/k excess reactivity with16.8 W(t)/cc
power output and 10 years lifetime. In this paper, the thermal hydraulic with natural circulation heat
removal mechanism of the reactor design will be reported. This research is to investigate the coolant
flow rate and the additional chimney needed when the natural circulation heat removal mechanism is
applied as the cooling mechanism of the reactor. In a natural circulation system, the flow of the
coolant in the reactor only govern by natural fenomena, gravity, without external sources of
mechanical energy. This system is an important design feature for an innovative reactor design
because in many reactor shutdown or emergency condition, forced cooling is assumed or predicted to
be lost. Besides, this system provide a significant cost-savings by the elimination of pumps and
ancillary equipment and also can result in simplified and hence higher reliability safety system. To
apply the natural circulation mechanism on this reactor a chimneys is added. The height of the
chimney is depend on the temperature inlet on the channel, which gives its own mean coolant velocity.
The lowest mean coolant velocity is 0.6m/s with 1.2cm and 16.8cm chimneys for inlet coolant
temperature 280 oC and 290oC respectively.

Keywords : small long live PWR, thorium, natural circulation.

that the reactor can be operated long time

1. INTRODUCTION continuously without refuelling it is necessary
to have relatively large internal conversion ratio
Small long life nuclear power plant with so that we can obtain optimal design with
moderate economical aspect is an important relatively low excess reactivity during burn up.
candidate for electric power generation in Designing such reactor is a difficult job, here
remote area, such as many part outside Java- we employ several concept to achieve that goal.
Bali area in Indonesia. Such nuclear power This reactor design also apply the natural
reactors match with the necessity and planning circulation as a heat removal mechanism to
of many cities and province outside Java-Bali have a better safety aspect, more economically
islands.Such nuclear power reactors can moderate design, and also more compact reactor
increase the nuclear reactor contribution to design. In heat removal aspect, an important
supply the electric power demand with low feature is the natural circulation mechanism
transportations of nuclear materials. In order where the flow of the coolant in the reactor is

only governed by natural fenomena, gravity, be minimized by considering that the thermal
without external sources of mechanical energy. limitation is still achieved.
This system is an important design feature for The configuration of the reactor core is as
an innovative reactor design because in many shown in the picture 1 below.
reactor shutdown or emergency condition,
forced cooling is assumed or predicted to be
lost. Besides, this system provide a significant
cost-savings by the elimination of pumps and
ancillary equipment and also can result in
simplified and hence higher reliability safety


There are three major design concept applied

in order to get good design for small long life
PWR which can be operated 10 years without
refueling or fuel shuffling. First, we propose
the usage of thorium based fuel. Thorium
cycle in the thermal environment is superior
than uranium cycle in term of producing core
with high internal conversion ratio. Besides its Figure.2 Reactor core
advantage related to its abundant and the non
proliferation issue. Second, we introduce tight The general parameter of the reactor design
lattice core concept by increasing the fuel including the fuel is shown in the table 1.
volume fraction. Third, we add Pa-231 as a
burnable poisson to further reduce the initial Parameter Spesifikasi
excess reactivity in the beginning of life Power
(BOL), due to its high capture cross section, 20 MWt
while supplying U-233 at the later stage of Lifetime 10 Year
burn up by conversion process to U-233 after (Th,U)O2 +
two neutron capture and beta decay. Fuel
Structure Zircalloy (Zr)
Coolant H20
U-233 7.5w/o-16w/o
enrichment U-233
Smear Density 90 %
Fuel Volume
Pin Cell Type
Figure 1. Pa-231 conversion Clad thickness 0.07 cm
Pin pitch 1,4 cm
From the thermal hydraulic aspect, the heat
Fuel height 195cm
removal of the reactor is using natural
circulation mechanism. Additional chimneys Fuel pellet
at top of the core is needed, to have a more radius
compact nuclear reactor this chimney should Reflector H2O
Reflector width 5cm

(up & below) where :
Table.1 General Parameter f :dimesionless friction factor(=0.02)
Illustration of the coolant channel which De : equivalent channel diameter
comprise of fuel pellet, clad and coolant flow Vm : mean coolant flow rate
area is given in the picture below
The pressure losses due to abrupt change in
geometry when the coolant is enter and exit the
channel, the relation is as follow :

ΔPform = ξρ (4)

where :
ξ : pressure drop coefficient (=0.065)
and the coolant density is its density when at the
entrance and exit position.
Figure.3 Coolant channel
Acceleration losses is calculated as follow
ΔPacceleration = 0.25 ρ m (5)

To determine the coolant flow through the The natural convection heat transfer coefficient
core, specially through the coolant channel, is calculated by calculating many parameter
the buoyant forces were compare to the such as the grashof number given as follow :
resultants losses from the friction losses, form βDe3 gΔT
losses, and the acceleration losses. All the Gr = (6)
calculation is using NKS units. The relation is υ2

where :
shown below
β : expansion coefficient of water.
ΔPb = ΔPfriction + ΔPform + ΔPacceleration (1) ΔT : temperature different between the
coolant and the cladding wall.
ν : kinematic viscousity
The buoyant forces are given by
and the Nusselt number is calculated as follow
ΔPb = g[Lf (ρ0 − ρm ) + (Lr + Lc )(ρ0 − ρu )] (2)
where Nu = C (Gr ⋅ Pr) n (7)
ρo, ρm, ρu : fluid density at entrance, mean, and
exit the channel respectively. where Pr is Prandlt number which characterizes
G gravity constant the physical properties of the coolant fuid, and
Lu,Lf,Lc Height of the upper reflector, fuel, the constants C and n is depend on the value of
and the chimney. Gr and Pr multiplication.

The frictional pressure losses result from wall From Nusselt number then the natural
friction and turbulence in the uniform cross convection coefficient is calculated as follow
section channel. These losses calculated as Nu ⋅ λ
follow : h= (8)
Lf Vm2
ΔPfriction = f ρm (3) where λ is thermal conductivity of the water.
De 2

The method used to find the natural the coolant will boil as shown in the case of
convection heat transfer is by using the inlet temperature 290 oC and the Vm = 0.4m/s.
dependency of the Gr to ΔT. Using a computer
code, value of ΔT is tried to find the Gr which
resulting a natural heat flux as same as the 4. CONCLUSION
heat flux of the neutronic data for each axial
position. Then, the axial temperature Natural circulation aspect of the reactor is
distribution of the coolant and the clad is investigated. It is possible to applied the natural
calculated also the density of the coolant along circulation as the reactor heat removal
the channel. So, in this research the mean mechanism with certain flow rate and related
coolant temperature is assumed first then the additional chimney. To achieve more compact
related axial temperature and density is nuclear reactor it desirable to have a short
calculated to finally calculate the chimney chimney, this value is achieved when the natural
need for that coolant flow by comparing the circulation flow rate is 0.6m/s.
equation (1) and (2).
By this method, the lowest coolant flow rate 4. REFFERENCES
that make the natural circulation is possible to
applied is 0.6m/s. The additional chimney is 1. Topan S, Muh.Nurul S, Yuliastuti, Zaki
also a function of the inlet temperature. Data Su’ud, “Neutronic Design Study of Small
of the power density of the fuel along the Long-Live PWR with (Th,U)O2 Fuel”.
channel is taken from the previous neutronic Proceedings of GLOBAL 2005 Tsukuba
calculation. Results of the coolant flow rate Japan, Paper No.5101.
and the chimney is shown as follow 2. “Natural Circulation data and methods for
advanced water cooled nuclear power plant
Inlet Temperature (degree C) designs”,Proceedings of a Technical
Vm(m/s) 280 290 300 Committee Meeting, IAEA-TECDOC-1281.
0.6 0.168079 0.012507 ** 3. L.S.Tong, J Weisman, “ Thermal Analysis
0.7 0.9924 0.758192 0.514201 of Presurrized Water Reactor”,ANS,1979.
0.8 2.056155 1.735039 1.385538 4. B.Nekrasov, “Hydraulics”, Peace Publisher,
0.9 3.374798 2.960503 2.446634 Moscow,USSR
1 4.963485 4.374174 3.716405 5. M.Mikheyev, “Fundamental of Heat
Table.2 Chimney’ length and flow rate results Transfer”, Peace Publisher,Moscow,USSR
6. Efrizon Umar, “Prediction of Mass Flow
The results above show that with inlet Rate and Pressure Drop in the Coolant
temperature 300 oC the natural circulation Channel of the TRIGA 2000 Reactor Core”,
with Vm = 0.6m/s is not achievable. LKSTN VIII BATAN,1997.

The axial coolant temperature along the

channel for different inlet temperature and
mean flow rate is shown in the pictures at the
appendix. If the coolant flow rate is too slow