Heat transfer in supercritical water reactors (SCWRs) shows a complex behavior, especially when the temperatures of the water are near the pseudocritical value. For example, a significant deterioration of heat transfer may occur, resulting in unacceptably high cladding temperatures. The underlying physics and thermodynamics behind this behavior are not well understood yet. To assist the worldwide development in SCWRs, it is therefore of paramount importance to assess the limits and capabilities of currently available models, despite the fact that most of these models were not meant to describe supercritical heat transfer (SCHT). For this reason, the Gen-IV International Forum initiated the present blind, numerical benchmark, primarily aiming to show the predictive ability of currently available models when applied to a real-life application with flow conditions that resemble those of an SCWR. This paper describes the outcomes of ten independent numerical investigations and their comparison with wall temperatures measured at different positions in a 7-rod bundle with spacer grids in a supercritical water test facility at JAEA. The wall temperatures were not known beforehand to guarantee the blindness of the study. A number of models have been used, ranging from a one-dimensional (1-D) analytical approach with heat transfer correlations to a RANS simulation with the SST turbulence model on a mesh consisting of 62 million cells. None of the numerical simulations accurately predicted the wall temperature for the test case in which deterioration of heat transfer occurred. Furthermore, the predictive capabilities of the subchannel analysis were found to be comparable to those of more laborious approaches. It has been concluded that predictions of SCHT in rod bundles with the help of currently available numerical tools and models should be treated with caution.
Paper No: NERS-15-1156