The PULSTAR experimental reactor is located at North Carolina State University (NCSU) in the United States. It is a 1 MW pool-type light water reactor fueled with PWR fuel.
The current approach to validate the multi-physics coupling at CEA is exclusively based on experimental data obtained from the operation of the PWR power plants, which is now considered insufficient to validate the coupling of advanced multi-physics models.
In this context, a post-doctoral work is proposed at CEA Cadarache, with the objective of contributing to the specifications of a new experimental program in the PULSTAR reactor for the validation of coupled multi-physics models, as part of a collaboration with the American DoE; the postdoctoral fellow will be jointly supervised by NCSU. The experimental program will study the coupling between multi-physics parameters in steady state conditions, as well as the effects of neutronics/thermal-hydraulics/fuel physics feedback during transients, at the scale of the fuel rod and the water subchannel. Transients of variable dynamics induced by reactivity injection ramps will be considered, at appropriate reactor power levels. An adequate instrumentation to access the local temperatures of the pellet and the cladding should be proposed. The measurements thus collected, under perfectly controlled experimental conditions, will constitute benchmark data for the validation of multi-physics simulations.
The post-doctoral work plan includes the following:
- develop a digital twin of the experimental reactor core, at the fuel rod scale, using CEA simulation tools;
- propose and study configurations of interest by simulation, to contribute to the definition of the experiment for stationary and transient states;
- contribute to the definition of the possible instrumentation for the experiment, according to the target uncertainties.