alexa Numerical Study of Single Flow Element in a Nuclear Thermal Thrust Chamber
ISSN: 2168-9792

Journal of Aeronautics & Aerospace Engineering
Open Access

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Research Article

Numerical Study of Single Flow Element in a Nuclear Thermal Thrust Chamber

Cheng GC1*, Ito Y2, Yen-Sen C3 and Ten-See W4
1Department of Aerospace Engineeing and Mechanics, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Alabama 35487-0280, USA
2Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, Mitaka, Tokyo 181-0015, Japan
3National Space Organization, Hsinchu 33078, Taiwan
4NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Alabama 35812, USA
Corresponding Author : Cheng GC
Associate professor, Department of Aerospace Engineeing and Mechanics University of Alabama
Tuscaloosa, Alabama 35487-0280, USA
Tel: 205-348-3327
E-mail: [email protected]
Received: November 24, 2015; Accepted: December 18, 2015; Published: December 20, 2015
Citation: Cheng GC, Ito Y, Yen-Sen C, Ten-See W (2015) Numerical Study of Single Flow Element in a Nuclear Thermal Thrust Chamber. J Aeronaut Aerospace Eng 4:153. doi:10.4172/2168-9792.1000153
Copyright: © 2015 Cheng GC, et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
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Abstract

The objective of this study was to develop an efficient and accurate computational methodology to predict detailed thermo-fluid environments of a single flow element in a hypothetical solid-core nuclear thermal thrust chamber assembly. Several numerical and multi-physics thermo-fluid models, such as chemical reactions, turbulence, conjugate heat transfer, porosity, and power generation, were incorporated into an unstructured-grid, pressure-based computational fluid dynamics solver used in this investigation. A secondary objective was to develop a porosity model for simulation of the whole solid-core nuclear thermal engine without resolving thousands of flow channels inside the solid core. Detailed numerical simulations of a single flow element with different power generation profiles were conducted to investigate the root cause of a phenomenon called mid-section corrosion that severely damaged the flow element assembly of early solid-core reactors. Under the assumptions employed in this effort and for the first time, the result demonstrated flow choking in the flow element. The possibility of flow choking in part of the flow element indicated a potential coolant mass flow imbalance, which could lead to a high local thermal gradient in coolant-starved flow elements and possibly the eventual mid-section corrosion.

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