CFD Simulation of Helium Flow Loop Test Section


A helium flow loop is being assembled at Oak Ridge National Laboratory to analyze heat transfer enhancement for systems such as blanket and divertor components. To efficiently identify optimum geometries for heat transfer enhancement in these applications, simulation work is performed to optimize test section designs that are built and tested in the helium flow loop that operates at 4 MPa and a mass flow rate of 100 g/s. Different ribbed geometries that examine rib shape, rib height, rib orientation, rib spacing, and three-dimensional orientation are modeled and simulated in STAR-CCM+ to compare their ability to remove heat and mitigate pressure drop. Following the simulations, models are selected and manufactured for the helium flow loop tests. Simulations initially focus on a hydrodynamic study to determine the appropriate mesh and physics models and then add a heat flux to analyze the heat transfer abilities of the models. The simulations are run in steady state and use a Reynolds-averaged Navier-Stokes k-ε turbulence model. The helium is modeled as an ideal gas. The simulation explores models of geometries that enhance the heat transfer and decrease pressure drop with an overall goal of increasing fluid collision with the wall. Enhanced geometries are simulated to select appropriate designs for manufacturing, and preliminary experimental results are used to validate the simulations. The factors that are being analyzed in the comparison between the experimental and the simulated results include matching thermocouple temperatures, pressure drop, roughness, and fluid velocity.


Nuclear Engineering and Radiation Science

Research Center/Lab(s)

Center for High Performance Computing Research


This research was sponsored by the Laboratory Directed Research and Development Program of Oak Ridge National Laboratory, managed by UT-Battelle, LLC, for the U.S. Department of Energy [DEAC05-00OR22725]. This work was supported by the U.S. Department of Education, Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need [P200A150327].

Keywords and Phrases

Breeder Blanket Technology; Computational Fluid Dynamics; First Wall; Helium Cooling

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

1536-1055; 1943-7641

Document Type

Article - Journal

Document Version


File Type





© 2021 American Nuclear Society, All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Jan 2021