Journal article Open Access

Modelling and analysis of fuel assembly vibrational modes in PWRs using SIMULATE-3K

V. Verma; D. Chionis; A. Dokhane; H. Ferroukhi

Some of the KWU pre-KONVOI PWRs operating across Europe saw a systematic increase in the neutron noise levels over several cycles in the last decade, and subsequently, core internals’ movements, especially vibrations of fuel assemblies with specific designs were identified as one of the plausible causes. Therefore, it is important to develop computational methods that can allow to investigate and predict the reactor noise response to fuel assemblies vibrations. To this aim, the 3D nodal reactor dynamics code SIMULATE-
3K is used at PSI with a special module called the ‘assembly vibration model’ that imitates time-dependent motions of fuel assemblies by dynamically modifying the water-gaps surrounding the laterally moving fuel assemblies. The varying water-gaps are represented by the variation in the corresponding two-group macroscopic cross sections generated using the lattice code CASMO-5 in 2D. The studies conducted so far to assess the methodology
for full core noise simulations were based on assuming vibrations of a clamped-free cluster of fuel assemblies that are unsupported from both ends. However, as this represents a non-physical movement, further developments were made at PSI to allow simulating more realistic movements of fuel assemblies such as the cantilevered mode vibration. The updated methodology, along with evaluations of the simulated noise response to realistic vibration modes, is presented in this paper. Results show that, as expected, the radial and axial neutron noise behaviour follow the vibration pattern of the imposed time dependent axial functions corresponding to the natural oscillation modes of the fuel assemblies, thereby providing confidence in the application of the developed methodology for numerical neutron noise analyses of the PWR cores

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