This document focuses on the procedure and results of creating a thermohydraulic model of the secondary cooling system of the SAFARI-1 research reactor at the Pelindaba facility of the South African Nuclear Energy Corporation (Necsa) to the west of Pretoria, South Africa. The secondary cooling system is an open recirculating cooling system that comprises an array of parallel-coupled heat exchangers between the primary systems and the main heat sink system, which consists of multiple counterflow-induced draught cooling towers. The original construction of the reactor was a turnkey installation, with no theoretical/technical support or verifiability. The design baseline is therefore not available and it is necessary to reverse-engineer a system that could be modelled and characterised. For the nuclear operator, it is essential to be able to make predictions and systematically implement modifications to improve system performance, such as to understand and modify the control system. Another objective is to identify the critical performance areas of the thermohydraulic system or to determine whether the cooling capacity of the secondary system meets the optimum original design characteristics. The approach was to perform a comprehensive one-dimensional modelling of all the available physical components, which was followed by using existing performance data to verify the accuracy and validity of the developed model. Where performance data is not available, separate analysis through computational fluid dynamics (CFD) modelling is performed to generate the required inputs. The results yielded a model that is accurate within 10%. This is acceptable when compared to the variation within the supplied data, generated and assumed alternatives, and when considering the compounding effect of the large amount of interdependent components, each with their own characteristics and associated performance uncertainties. The model pointed to potential problems within the current system, which comprised either an obstruction in a certain component or faulty measuring equipment. Furthermore, it was found that the current spray nozzles in the cooling towers are underutilised. It should be possible to use the current cooling tower arrangement to support a similar second reactor, although slight modifications would be required to ensure that the current system is not operated beyond its current limits. The interdependent nature of two parallel systems and the variability of the conditions that currently exist would require a similar analysis as the current model to determine the viability of using the existing cooling towers for an additional reactor.
Dissertation (MEng)--University of Pretoria, 2018.