Experimental investigation of natural circulation instability in a BWR-type small modular reactor

Shanbin Shi, Joshua P. Schlegel, Caleb S. Brooks, Yu Chen Lin, Jaehyuk Eoh, Zhuo Liu, Qingzi Zhu, Yang Liu, Takashi Hibiki, Mamoru Ishii

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Purdue NMR (Novel Modular Reactor) represents a BWR-type small modular reactor with a significantly reduced reactor pressure vessel (RPV). Specifically, the NMR is one third the height and area of a conventional BWR RPV with an electrical output of 50 MWe. Experiments are performed in a well-scaled test facility to investigate the thermal hydraulic flow instabilities during the startup transients for the NMR. The scaling analysis for the design of natural circulation test facility uses a three-level scaling methodology. Scaling criteria are derived from non-dimensional field and constitutive equations. Important thermal hydraulic parameters, e.g. system pressure, inlet coolant flow velocity and local void fraction, are analyzed for slow and fast normal startup transients. Flashing instability and density wave oscillation are the main flow instabilities observed when system pressure is below 0.5 MPa. And the flashing instability and density wave oscillation show different type of oscillations in void fraction profile. Finally, the pressurized startup procedure is recommended and tested in current research to effectively eliminate the flow instabilities during the NMR startup transients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)96-107
Number of pages12
JournalProgress in Nuclear Energy
StatePublished - Nov 1 2015


  • Flow instability
  • NMR
  • Natural circulation test facility
  • Pressurized startup procedures
  • Startup tests

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nuclear Energy and Engineering
  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Waste Management and Disposal


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