Project to reduce reactor core vibration wins Hang Senior Design Award
A project to reduce vibration between fuel rods in nuclear reactor cores has won the 2018 Daniel F. Hang Outstanding Senior Design Award.
Seniors Joel Brassfield, Emily Gordon, Holly Hernandez and Salvador Rosas, students of Nuclear, Plasma, and Radiological Engineering, contributed to the project, “Vibration Reduction Bracing System (VRBS).”
According to the designers, cladding failure in commercial nuclear reactors can result in the release of fission products from the fuel rods to the coolant, and eventually to the environment. Vibrations induced by coolant flow through the core are responsible for 40 to 50 percent of cladding failure.
The team designed a vibration reducing bracing ring system (VRBS) to be placed between four fuel rods, positioned between fuel assemblies in order to disperse the turbulence-based forces responsible for grid-to-rod fretting.
The scope of the project included choosing a material and geometry which least impacted neutron economy, pressure drop, and heat transfer within the core. An experiment was conducted to quantify vibration reduction. A cost-benefit analysis on the manufacturing, distribution, and retrofitting of bracer rings was performed, taking into account the extended lifetime and increased performance of fuel rods after the addition of the bracer rings.
The Daniel F. Hang Outstanding Senior Design Award was created in honor of the late Emeritus Prof. Daniel F. Hang, one of the department's founders. Hang, who died at the age of 95 in 2013, was passionate about nuclear engineering design, and emphasized the coupling of economics analysis with successful design work. The award is made to the NPRE 458 senior design group whose project is deemed to be of exemplary merit.
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