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Safety of nuclear reactors: how to model precisely the water-steam flows

03/31/2014

Model as precisely as possible the many complex phenomena which occur when the water flows in pressurized water reactors. That is the task the experts in fluid mechanics from CEA Direction de l’Energie Nucléaire (DEN) are dedicated to...

Physicians from CEA Direction de l’Energie Nucléaire (DEN) study the many complex phenomena which take place when the water flows in pressurized water reactors. The good condition of the cistern, which contains the core of nuclear reactors, must be guaranteed the whole time the reactors operate. Some cutting-edge simulation tools were developed, such as the software program NEPTUNE_CFD, used to model water-steam flows in case of a pressurized thermal shock (PTS). This software program (version 2.2.0) was made available for EDF, Areva and IRSN in December 2013.

DEN has been working for many years on developing physical models which are integrated in "CFD" (Computational Fluid Dynamics) software programs. These programs consist in studying the movements or effects of a fluid by solving the equations governing its behavior.

Picture: Experiment of a large-scale pressurized thermal shock (PTS): on the left, the cistern of a reactor with the steam generators drawn in blue ; on the right, the NEPTUNE_CFD software program modeled the area of the cistern and the pipework involved (c) CEA.