The international benchmark concerned pebble bed modular reactor (PBMR) coupled neutronics/thermal-hydraulics transients based on the PBMR-400MW design. In many cases the deterministic neutronics, thermal-hydraulics and transient analysis tools and methods available to design and analyse PBMRs lag behind the state of the art compared to other reactor technologies. This motivated the testing of existing methods for high-temperature gas-cooled reactors (HTGRs), but also the development of more accurate and efficient tools to analyse the neutronics and thermal-hydraulic behaviour for the design and safety evaluations of the PBMR. In addition to the development of new methods, this included defining appropriate benchmarks to verify and validate the new methods in computer codes.
The scope of the benchmark was to establish well-defined problems, based on a common set of cross-sections, to compare methods and tools in core simulation and thermal-hydraulics analysis with a specific focus on transient events through a set of multi-dimensional computational test problems.
|Major design and operating characteristics of the PBMR
|Installed thermal capacity
|Installed electric capacity
|Load following capability
|Vertical with fixed centre graphite reflector
|TRISO ceramic coated U-235 in graphite spheres
|Primary coolant pressure
|Core outlet temperature
|Core inlet temperature
|Number of circuits
|Emergency planning zone
The PBMR functions under a direct Brayton cycle with primary coolant helium flowing downward through the core and exiting at 900°C. The helium then enters the turbine relinquishing energy to drive the electric generator and compressors. After leaving the turbine, the helium then passes consecutively through the LP primary side of the recuperator, then the pre-cooler, the low-pressure compressor, intercooler, high-pressure compressor and then on to the HP secondary side of the recuperator before re-entering the reactor vessel at 500°C. Power is adjusted by regulating the mass flow rate of gas inside the primary circuit. This is achieved by a combination of compressor bypass and system pressure changes. Increasing the pressure results in an increase in mass flow rate, which increases the power removed from the core. Power reduction is achieved by removing gas from the circuit. A Helium Inventory Control System is used to provide an increase or decrease in system pressure.
The PBMR-400 benchmark consists of phases, each consisting of different exercises.
Data related to PBMR400 can be requested from the NEA Databank.
Helium-cooled very high-temperature gas reactors are highlighted as a key technology with the potential to improve the competitiveness of nuclear energy within the Generation IV International Forum (GIF). Developing tools and methods to support this technology is seen as a priority by NEA member countries.
The Working Party on Scientific Issues and Uncertainty Analysis of Reactor Systems (WPRS) studies the reactor physics, fuel performance, and radiation transport and shielding in present and future nuclear power systems.