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Multiphysics Coupling Methods for Molten Salt Reactor Modeling and Simulation in VERA
Nuclear Science and Engineering  (IF1.381),  Pub Date : 2021-05-03, DOI: 10.1080/00295639.2021.1901000
Aaron M. Graham, Zack Taylor, Benjamin S. Collins, Robert K. Salko, Max Poschmann


New multiphysics coupling capabilities for molten salt reactor (MSR) analysis have been developed in the Virtual Environment for Reactor Applications (VERA). This development consisted of two main efforts. First, a generic species transport module was added in the CTF code, which is the thermal-hydraulics (TH) code for VERA. This module uses the velocity fields for which CTF solves during the TH calculation to transport species through the core and around the primary loop. Additionally, a gas sparging model has been added to CTF to model the movement of certain species, namely, fission products such as xenon gas, to transport between the molten salt and gas bubbles present in the salt. The second effort in this development was coupling this capability to VERA’s neutron transport code MPACT. This effort focused on coupling the detailed TH transport models in CTF to MPACT to account for feedback effects in the neutron transport calculations. Finally, the thermochemistry code Thermochimica has also been coupled to VERA. Thermochimica performs pointwise calculations for chemical potential and Gibbs free energy and determines what phases are produced by the temperature, pressure, and elemental concentrations at different locations in the primary loop.

These capabilities are demonstrated using a model of the Molten Salt Reactor Experiment (MSRE). This reactor operated at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the 1960s, providing sources of experimental data that were used to develop the model. Various combinations of species were modeled using VERA’s new multiphysics coupling capabilities. Species distributions and reactivity effects behaved as expected for the MSRE model, demonstrating that the coupling is behaving correctly and causing appropriate feedback. The results of these calculations show the potential for VERA to be used for a wide variety of MSR analyses.