Analysis of the potential for flow-induced deflection of nuclear reactor fuel plates under high velocity flows
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The University of Missouri Research Reactor (MURR) is one of five High Performance Research Reactors(HPRRs) in the U.S. that still utilizes high enriched uranium (HEU) fuel. Currently, a novel LEU fuel is under consideration to replace the current HEU fuel. Questions have been raised about how the thinner laminate sandwich structure of the LEU fuel plates will hydro-mechanically respond under the high velocity coolant flows within the reactor core. If the fuel plates deform such that the flow of coolant is choked off the temperature of a fuel plate could increase enough to cause it to rupture and potentially release fission gas into the coolant system. The purpose of this research was to develop a set of numerical tools to access the flow-induced deformation of the proposed LEU fuel by coupling the commercial computational fluid dynamics (CFD) code, Star-CCM+, with the finite element analysis (FEA) code, Abaqus to build fluid-structure interaction (FSI) models. The results of these FSI models were then benchmarked against experiments conducted using a hydro-mechanical flow loop. A plan for future experiments and FSI models is also discussed to help facilitate convergence of the experimental data with the model's solution. A successful benchmarking will allow these numerical tools to be utilized in complicated models for qualifying the safe-use of the proposed LEU fuel.