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Science and Technology of Nuclear Installations
Volume 2016, Article ID 5452085, 11 pages
Research Article

Using CFD as Preventative Maintenance Tool for the Cold Neutron Source Thermosiphon System

1Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO), Locked Bag 2001, Kirrawee, NSW 2232, Australia
2School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia

Received 18 August 2016; Accepted 27 November 2016

Academic Editor: Rafael Miró

Copyright © 2016 Mark Ho et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The cold neutron source (CNS) system of the Open Pool Australian Light-Water (OPAL) reactor is a 20 L cryogenically cooled liquid deuterium thermosiphon system. The CNS is cooled by forced convective helium which is held at room temperature during stand-by (SO) mode and at ~20 K during normal operation (NO) mode. When helium cooling stops, the reactor is shut down to prevent the moderator cell from overheating. This computational fluid dynamics (CFD) study aims to determine whether the combined effects of conduction and natural convection would provide sufficient cooling for the moderator cell under the influence of reactor decay heat after reactor shutdown. To achieve this, two commercial CFD software packages using an identical CFD mesh were first assessed against an experimental heat transfer test of the CNS. It was found that both numerical models were valid within the bounds of experimental uncertainty. After this, one CFD model was used to simulate the thermosiphon transient condition after the reactor is shut down. Two independent shutdown conditions of different decay-heat power profiles were simulated. It was found that the natural convection and conduction cooling in the thermosiphon were sufficient for dissipating both decay-heat profiles, with the moderator cell remaining below the safe temperature of 200°C.