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Influence of fluid temperature gradient on the flow within the shaft gap of a PLR pump

Qian, W., Rosic, B., Zhang, Q. & Khanal, B. (2016). Influence of fluid temperature gradient on the flow within the shaft gap of a PLR pump. Heat and Mass Transfer/Waerme- und Stoffuebertragung, 52(3), pp. 469-481. doi: 10.1007/s00231-015-1570-y


In nuclear power plants the primary-loop recirculation (PLR) pump circulates the high temperature/high-pressure coolant in order to remove the thermal energy generated within the reactor. The pump is sealed using the cold purge flow in the shaft seal gap between the rotating shaft and stationary casing, where different forms of Taylor–Couette flow instabilities develop. Due to the temperature difference between the hot recirculating water and the cold purge water (of order of 200 °C), the flow instabilities in the gap cause temperature fluctuations, which can lead to shaft or casing thermal fatigue cracks. The present work numerically investigated the influence of temperature difference and rotating speed on the structure and dynamics of the Taylor–Couette flow instabilities. The CFD solver used in this study was extensively validated against the experimental data published in the open literature. Influence of temperature difference on the fluid dynamics of Taylor vortices was investigated in this study. With large temperature difference, the structure of the Taylor vortices is greatly stretched at the interface region between the annulus gap and the lower recirculating cavity. Higher temperature difference and rotating speed induce lower fluctuating frequency and smaller circumferential wave number of Taylor vortices. However, the azimuthal wave speed remains unchanged with all the cases tested. The predicted axial location of the maximum temperature fluctuation on the shaft is in a good agreement with the experimental data, identifying the region potentially affected by the thermal fatigue. The physical understandings of such flow instabilities presented in this paper would be useful for future PLR pump design optimization.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: The final publication is available at Springer via
Subjects: T Technology > TA Engineering (General). Civil engineering (General)
Departments: School of Science & Technology > Engineering
School of Science & Technology > Engineering > Mechanical Engineering & Aeronautics
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