Date of Award

2014

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Engineering (MSE)

Department

Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Committee Chair

Jason T. Cassibry

Committee Member

Bill Emrich

Committee Member

Keith Hollingsworth

Subject(s)

Nuclear fuel elements., Nuclear propulsion., Space vehicles--Nuclear power plants., Heat--Transmission., Gas flow.

Abstract

In the past, fuel elements with multiple axial coolant channels have been used in nuclear propulsion applications. A novel fuel element concept that reduces weight and increases efficiency uses a stack of grooved rings. Each fuel ring consists of a hole on the interior and grooves across the top face. Many grooved ring configurations have been modeled, and a single flow channel for each design has been analyzed. For increased efficiency, a fuel ring with a higher surface-area-to-volume ratio is ideal. When grooves are shallower and they have a lower surface area, the results show that the exit temperature is higher. By coupling the physics of fluid flow with those of heat transfer, the effects on the cooler gas flowing through the grooves of the hot, fissioning ring can be predicted. Models also show differences in velocities and temperatures after dense boundary nodes are applied. Parametric studies were done to show how a pressure drop across the length of the channels will affect the exit temperatures of the gas. Geometric optimization was done to show the temperature distributions and pressure drops that result from the manipulation of various parameters, and the effects of model scaling was also investigated. The inverse Graetz numbers are plotted against Nusselt numbers, and the results of these values suggest that the gas quickly becomes fully developed, laminar flow, rather than constant turbulent conditions.

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