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A Technique to Simulate a Tube Break in a High-Pressure Gas/Cooling Water Heat Exchanger

[+] Author Affiliations
H. J. van Antwerpen

M-Tech Industrial, Potchefstroom, North-West, South Africa

E. J. Mulder

North-West University, Potchefstroom, North-West, South Africa

Paper No. HTR2008-58161, pp. 667-675; 9 pages
  • Fourth International Topical Meeting on High Temperature Reactor Technology
  • Fourth International Topical Meeting on High Temperature Reactor Technology, Volume 1
  • Washington, DC, USA, September 28–October 1, 2008
  • Conference Sponsors: ASME
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-4854-8 | eISBN: 978-0-7918-3834-1
  • Copyright © 2008 by ASME


The gas cycles of most High Temperature Gas-Cooled Reactors (HTR’s) reject heat to water at some stage. In the helium/water heat exchangers of HTR’s with direct Brayton cycles, the helium is usually at a much higher pressure than the water. If the pressure boundary between the helium and the water fails inside the heat exchanger, the effect on the rest of the water system has to be established in order to do a proper system design. This can be done most efficiently by using a system simulation code, however, very few system simulation codes has the capability to do gas/liquid interface tracking as required for this problem. This study describes a calculation method with which a gas/liquid heat exchanger tube rupture can be calculated in a simulation code without interface tracking. The course of events after tube rupture is described and appropriate calculation models derived. A mathematical model for a pressure relief valve (PRV) was also created. The calculation models were implemented in the system simulation software Flownex and used to study a tube rupture on a 5000kPa helium/water heat exchanger. The assembled calculation network solved stable and within reasonable time. The simulation provided insight into the course of events following the tube break. It was shown that the acceleration of water out of the helium cooler, by choked-flow helium, caused the main pressure pulses during the event. The maximum pressure in the water loop occurs on the opposite side of the helium cooler due to constructive interference of the initial pressure wave with itself. It was also shown that by changing only pipe lengths, the system could become prone to severe oscillations after a tube rupture event.

Copyright © 2008 by ASME



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