Thermal–hydraulic analysis of space nuclear reactor TOPAZ-II with modified RELAP5


With the advantages of high reliability, power density, and long life, nuclear power reactors have become a promising option for space power. In this study, the Reactor Excursion and Leak Analysis Program 5 (RELAP5), with the implementation of sodium–potassium eutectic alloy (NaK-78) properties and heat transfer correlations, is adopted to analyze the thermal–hydraulic characteristics of the space nuclear reactor TOPAZ-II. A RELAP5 model including thermionic fuel elements (TFEs), reactor core, radiator, coolant loop, and volume accumulator is established. The temperature reactivity feedback effects of the fuel, TFE emitter, TFE collector, moderator, and reactivity insertion effects of the control drums and safety drums are considered. To benchmark the integrated TOPAZ-II system model, an electrical ground test of the fully integrated TOPAZ-II system, the V-71 unit, is simulated and analyzed. The calculated coolant temperature and system pressure are in acceptable agreement with the experimental data for the maximum relative errors of 8 and 10%, respectively. The detailed thermal–hydraulic characteristics of TOPAZ-II are then simulated and analyzed at the steady state. The calculation results agree well with the design values. The current work provides a solid foundation for space reactor design and transient analysis in the future.

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Correspondence to Sui-Zheng Qiu.

Additional information

This work was supported by the China National Postdoctoral Program for Innovative Talents (No. BX201600124), China Postdoctoral Science Foundation (No. 2016M600796), and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 11605131).

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Wang, C., Liu, T., Tang, S. et al. Thermal–hydraulic analysis of space nuclear reactor TOPAZ-II with modified RELAP5. NUCL SCI TECH 30, 12 (2019).

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  • Space nuclear reactor TOPAZ-II
  • Thermal–hydraulic analysis
  • RELAP5 modification