SUBJECT: Ph.D. Proposal Presentation
BY: Jim Wang
TIME: Thursday, December 3, 2020, 10:00 a.m.
TITLE: Coarse-mesh-based Reduced-Order Package for Multi-Physics Simulations of Nuclear Thermal Propulsion Reactor Cores
COMMITTEE: Dr. Dan Kotlyar, Chair (GT NRE)
Dr. Bojan Petrovic (GT NRE)
Dr. Mostafa Ghiaasiaan (GT ME)
Dr. Jon McWhirter (TerraPower)
Dr. Massimiliano Fratoni (UC Berkeley)


Nuclear Thermal Propulsion (NTP) powered engine is a feasible technology for the upcoming human mission to Mars and beyond. Therefore, developing and implementing a computational methodology to accurately model NTP’s reactor components is of uttermost importance to further promote this technology. A conventional Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) simulation provides high-resolution thermal-hydraulic (T/H) results, but the calculation time and resources may be prohibitive especially if such methods are applied to study the full core performance. A balance must be struck between the computational costs and the resolution needs of the simulation. This proposal discusses the development of a coarse-mesh-based T/H module for NTP full core simulation using the OpenFOAM finite volume package. The numerical methodology relies on the porous medium approach in conjunction with a finite difference method to model propellent/coolant flow in various reactor sub-elements. The T/H module will be built upon an existing reactor multi-physics solver, GeN-Foam, to enable T/H – neutronic coupling capability. The end product, denoted here as GeN-FoamNTP, will have the flexibility to analyze various core design patterns. More importantly, the simulation package is envisioned to act as a complement to experimental efforts. Finally, as the computational methodology is implemented within an existing Gen-Foam multi-physics framework, the inclusion of thermo-mechanics is also possible.