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Non-intrusive Experimental Study on Nuclear Fuel Assembly Response to Seismic Loads Open Access

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Experimental measurements of nuclear fuel bundle response to seismic loads have primarily been focused on the response of the structure. Forcing methods have included use of shake tables, however, the majority of work has used hydraulic actuators rigidly connected to a single spacer grid to force the fuel bundle. Structural measurements utilize such instruments as linear variable displacement transducers (LVDT) that are mounted on the structure. From these measurements it has been shown that fuel bundles in prototypical conditions, with an axial flow of 6 m/s, behave markedly different from fuel bundles in still water when there is external forcing on the core from an earthquake. It has also been shown that the structure and fluid are fully coupled. Thus more recently attention has been focused on fluid measurements in the bypass region around fuel bundles with external forcing with laser doppler velocimetry (LDV), which is a point wise fluid velocity measurement technique.This work describes a unique facility that has garnered a large experimental database of fully coupled fluid and structure measurements with time resolved particle image velocimetry (PIV) and digital image correlation (DIC) within a full height 6$\times$6 fuel bundle exposed to seismic forcing on a large 6 degree of freedom shake table. A refractive index matched (RIM) vertical liquid tunnel is mounted on the shake table and houses the fuel bundle which is based on the geometry of a prototypical fuel bundle in a pressurized water reactor (PWR). PIV is obtained with high spatial resolution by rigidly mounting all optical equipment to the test section on the shake table, where the laser light is delivered through high power multi-mode step index fiber optics from a high powered Nd:YLF laser located 10 meters away from the test section. High temporal resolution for the PIV measurements is obtained with state of the art high speed CMOS cameras that record straight to hard drive allowing for increased length run times needed to capture the effect of the seismic transients on the fluid velocity field. A custom DIC system is used to non-intrusively measure the structural displacements at the same time the PIV measurements are recorded. With this non-intrusive system, simultaneous full field fluid velocity measurements and structural response measurements to seismic forcing are obtained for the first time. Furthermore, the RIM facility allows for fluid measurements within the fuel bundle that have not been accessible before.This work presents data on fluid structure interaction (FSI) measurements in still fluid, and with axial flow at Reynolds number typical to a PWR, with seismic forcing from a shake table. Analysis of the cases in still water will show development of a vertical pulsatile flow, in addition to a cross flow, created by the horizontal oscillations of the fuel bundle driving pressure gradients in both the vertical and spanwise directions. Furthermore in still water the onset of vortices being shed from the bundle oscillations is found to occur at a critical Keulegan Carpenter number which has a direct impact on bundle dynamics. The insights from the still water cases are paramount in improaving the understanding of what occurs in the more complex case with axial flow, where the vertical pulsatile flow is found to be prevalent as well. Additionally this data provides for the first time high spatial and temporal full field fluid velocity measurements that can be used for validation of numerical codes.

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