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In a nuclear fuel cask, the heat generating spent fuel rods are packed in a housing and the resulting bundle is placed inside a cask of thick outer shell made of materials like lead or concrete. The cask presents a wide variation in geometrical dimensions ranging from the diameter of the rods to the diameter of the cask. To make the problem tractable, first the heat generating rod bundle alone is considered for analysis and the effective thermal conductance of the bundle is correlated in terms of the relevant parameters. In the second part, the bundle is represented as a solid of equivalent thermal conductance and the attention is focused on the modelling of the cask. The first part, dealing with the effective thermal conductance is solved using Fluent software, considering coupled conduction, natural convection and surface radiation in the heat generating rod bundle encased in a hexagonal sheath. Helium, argon, air and nitrogen are considered as working media inside the bundle. A correlation is obtained for the critical Rayleigh number which signifies the onset of natural convection. A correlation is also developed for the effective thermal conductance of the bundle, considering all the modes of transport, in terms of the maximum temperature in the rod bundle, pitch-to-diameter ratio, bundle dimension (or number of rods), heat generation rate and the sheath temperature. The correlation covers pitch-to-diameter ratios in the range 1.1-2, number of rods ranging from 19 to 217 and the heat generation rates encountered in practical applications. The second part deals with the heat transfer modeling of the cask with the bundle represented as a solid of effective (or equivalent) thermal conductance. The mathematical model describes two-dimensional conjugate natural convection and its interaction with surface radiation in the cask. Both Boussinesq and non-Boussinesq formulations have been considered for convection. Numerical solutions are obtained on a staggered mesh with a pressure correction method using a custom-made Fortran code. The surface radiation is coupled to the conduction and convection at the solid-fluid interfaces. Steady-state results are obtained using time-marching. Results for various quantities of interest, namely, the flow and temperature distributions, Nusselt numbers, and interface temperatures, are presented. The Grashof number based on the volumetric heat generation and gap width is varied from 105 to 5 ×109. The emissivities of the interfaces are varied from 0.2-0.8 for the radiative calculations. The solid-to-fluid thermal conductivity ratio for the inner cylinder is varied in the range 5-20 in the parametric studies. Simulations are also performed with thermal conductivity calculated in an iterative manner from bundle parameters. The dimensionless outer wall conductivity ratio is chosen to correspond to cask walls made of lead or concrete. The dimensionless thickness (with respect to gap width) of the outer shell is in the range of 0.0825-1, while the inner cylinder dimensionless radius is 0.2. Air is the working medium in the cask for which the Prandtl number is 0.71. Correlations are obtained for the average temperatures and Nusselt numbers at the inner interface in terms of the parameters. The radiation heat transfer is found to contribute significantly to the heat dissipation.
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