This project will primarily be based at The University of Liverpool.
Nuclear energy is currently the only very low carbon technology which can deliver energy 24/7 on demand which will be a key for the successful transformation into a future net-zero society. However, to achieve the required production capacity, the UK will need to grow their nuclear reactor fleet significantly. One of the key products to deliver on this demand will be the successful development and deployment of small modular reactors (SMR). Small modular reactors (SMRs) attracted a lot of attention in recent years. They have the potential to be an attractive alternative to the modern large-scale nuclear power plants due to the advantages they offer, such as shorter deployment time, smaller capital costs, ability to be sited in remote locations, etc. In order to reduce the physical sizes and the complexity of the SMRs, soluble boron free core designs were proposed. Boron free cores reduce the physical dimensions of the SMR and eliminate boron dilution accidents, eliminate boron induced corrosion and reduce the amount of tritium produced during the reactor’s lifetime, not to speak about the strongly reduced cost of the water treatment facilities. However, due to the lack of soluble boron acid in the coolant, the excess reactivity has to be compensated in some alternative way, e. g. by burnable absorbers or control rods. This approach makes the boron free core more heterogeneous and creates additional challenges for accurate multiphysics simulations of such cores. Therefore, simulation of boron free cores can require applying the advanced techniques for multiphysics modelling and simulation of the SMR cores. There are new demands and complexities which cannot be handled by standard industrial methods caused by their small sizes and high heterogeneity. This PhD project aims to support the development of SMRs through the support/collaboration with industrial partners. Key point will be to identify the challenges in modelling and simulation of SMRs compared to traditional large-scale reactors. This will guide the way to find efficient ways for more accurate simulation of such cores to study the sensitivity of operational parameters. A combination of advanced modelling and simulation tools will be used, such as the full core simulator DYN3D, the neutron transport solver LOTUS, and the subchannel thermal-hydraulics code CTF. The project will allow identifying paths for more accurate modelling and simulation of the SMR cores without running computationally very expensive full-core pin-by-pin simulations. An approach which will be attractive for future industrial application of the developed methodology.
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