DOE News
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    The DOE Science News Source is a Newswise initiative to promote research news from the Office of Science of the DOE to the public and news media.
    • 2018-06-04 15:05:42
    • Article ID: 695537

    Simulating Turbulent Bubbly Flows in Nuclear Reactors

    With a better understanding of bubbly flows, researchers can improve the safety and operation of our nuclear reactors.

    • Credit: Image courtesy of Igor Bolotnov, North Carolina State University

      Researchers are using the Argonne Leadership Computing Facility’s Mira supercomputer to better understand boiling phenomena, bubble formation, and two-phase bubbly flow in nuclear reactors.

    The Science

    Inside nuclear reactors, boiling water, bubbles, and turbulent flows affect safety and efficiency. For many years, modeling turbulent bubbly flows was a challenging, time-consuming problem. Researchers were largely limited to experiments that yielded only a few bubbles at a time. Now, they can simulate the thousands of bubbles needed to model and predict the behavior of the flows in nuclear reactors. A team from North Carolina State University developed a novel bubble-tracking method. The supercomputer-based method produces a level of detail that cannot be observed directly in experiments.

    The Impact

    With a fundamental understanding of the bubbly flows that occur in nuclear reactors, researchers can improve reactors’ performance. Advanced modeling and simulation tools can help advance reactor safety and efficiency. Efforts like this are helping the nuclear industry adopt novel approaches in reactor analysis. Such analyses are crucial for successful reactor designs.

    Summary

    Researchers are shedding light on boiling phenomena, bubble formation, and turbulent liquid/gas flows in nuclear reactor geometries. Using ALCF supercomputers, they devised a way to conduct a direct numerical simulation of fully resolved deformable bubbles at unprecedented scale. The team’s approach performs smaller simulations to obtain statistically steady-state conditions and extract physically based numerical data for the development of coarser scale models. DOE’s Consortium for Advanced Simulation of Light Water Reactors used the results from the detailed simulations to develop a new generation of boiling models to be included in an advanced virtual reactor multiphysics model. Additionally, the simulations produced detailed distributions of bubble concentration and estimated the variation of the forces acting on the bubbles, providing insights to advance the understanding of turbulent two-phase flows.

    Large-scale runs of the new approach demonstrated the new bubble tracking approach, as well as the data processing and collecting techniques at scale for future simulations. The team’s method, detailed in a paper published in Nuclear Engineering and Design, can collect detailed two-phase flow information at the individual bubble level. This advanced analytical framework will help researchers gain insights from the “big data” produced by the large-scale simulations.

    Funding

    This research is supported by the Department of Energy’s Consortium for Advanced Simulation of Light Water Reactors and the National Science Foundation. Argonne Leadership Computing Facility computing time and resources were awarded through the Department of Energy, Office of Science, Advanced Scientific Computing Research Leadership Computing Challenge.

    Publications

    J. Fang and I.A. Bolotnov, “Bubble tracking analysis of PWR two-phase flow simulations based on the level set method.” Nuclear Engineering and Design 323, 68 (2017). [DOI: 10.1016/j.nucengdes.2017.07.034]

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    Climate Simulations Project Wetter, Windier Hurricanes

    New supercomputer simulations by climate scientists at the Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have shown that climate change intensified the amount of rainfall in recent hurricanes such as Katrina, Irma, and Maria by 5 to 10 percent. They further found that if those hurricanes were to occur in a future world that is warmer than present, those storms would have even more rainfall and stronger winds.

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    DOE issues call for HPC for Energy Innovation proposals

    The U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) High Performance Computing for Energy Innovation (HPC4EI) Initiative today issued its first joint solicitation for the High Performance Computing for Manufacturing Program (HPC4Mfg) and the High Performance Computing for Materials Program (HPC4Mtls).

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    Sierra Reaches Higher Altitudes, Takes Number Two Spot on List of Fastest Supercomputers

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    INCITE grants awarded to 62 computational research projects

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    Argonne's Raj Kettimuthu Named ACM Distinguished Member

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    Jefferson Lab-Affiliated Researchers Honored as APS Fellows

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    Jefferson Lab Receives DOE Award for Energy Efficient Upgrade

    On Oct. 23, a team from the Department of Energy's Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility was honored at the 2018 Federal Energy and Water Management Award Ceremony for upgrades made to the lab's data center, ultimately improving its energy efficiency.

    Free Science Events and Educational Opportunities Expected to Draw Thousands

    The Plasma Sciences Expo--planned as the biggest celebration of plasma physics in the country--presents teachers, students and the public with a free opportunity to explore what scientists call "the fourth state of matter."

    Triad National Security Takes the Helm at Los Alamos National Laboratory

    LOS ALAMOS, N.M., November 1, 2018 -- Los Alamos National Laboratory begins operations today under a new management and operating (M&O) contract between Triad National Security, LLC (Triad) and the U.S. Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). The NNSA awarded the M&O contract to Triad on June 8, 2018.


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    Tiny Titanium Barrier Halts Big Problem in Fuel-Producing Solar Cells

    New design coats molecular components and dramatically improves stability under tough, oxidizing conditions.

    Turning Wood Scraps into Tape

    A new chemical process converts a component of wasted wood pulp and other biomass into high-value pressure-sensitive adhesives.

    Very Heavy Elements Deliver More Electrons

    Scientists revise understanding of the limits of bonding for very electron-rich heavy elements.

    Probing Water's "No-Man's Land" Temperature Region

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    Novel Soil Bacteria with Unusual Genes Synthesize Unique Antibiotic Precursors

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    Experimental warming treatments show how peatland forests may respond to future environmental change.

    Rising Stars Seek to Learn from the Master: Mother Nature

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    Cryocooler Cools an Accelerator Cavity

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    Shining Light on the Separation of Rare Earth Metals

    New studies identify key molecular characteristics to potentially separate rare earth metals cleanly and efficiently with light.


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