Gas-cooled reactor thermal hydraulic analyses with MELCOR Academic Article uri icon


  • © 2015 Elsevier Ltd. Abstract Pursuant to the Energy Policy Act of 2005, the High Temperature Gas-Cooled Reactor (HTGR) has been selected as the reference design for the Next Generation Nuclear Plant (NGNP). Stemming from a U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) HTGR research initiative, a need was identified for validation of systems-level computer code modeling capabilities in anticipation of the eventual need to perform licensing analyses. Because the NRC has used MELCOR for light water reactors (LWR) in the past and because MELCOR was recently updated to include gas-cooled reactor (GCR) physics models, MELCOR is among the system codes of interest to the NRC. This paper describes MELCOR modeling of the General Atomics' Modular High Temperature Gas-Cooled Reactor (MHTGR). The MHGTR is a suitable design for demonstration of MELCOR GCR modeling competency for two reasons: 1) the MHTGR is a predecessor to the more advanced General Atomics' Gas-Turbine Modular High Temperature Reactor (GTMHR), and 2) experimental data useful for benchmark calculations may soon become available. Using the most complete literature references available for the MHTGR design, researchers at Texas A&M University (TAMU) constructed a MELCOR input deck for the MHTGR to partially validate MELCOR GCR modeling capabilities. Normal and off-normal system operating conditions were modeled with appropriate boundary and initial conditions. MELCOR predictions of system response were obtained for steady-state, pressurized conduction cool-down (PCC), and depressurized conduction cool-down (DCC) scenarios. Code results were checked against nominal MHTGR design parameters, physical intuition, and anticipated GCR thermal hydraulic response. No inherent deficiencies in MELCOR modeling capability were observed, suggesting that the newly-implemented GCR models are adequate for systems-level analysis. If and when experimental benchmark data becomes available, further validation activities may proceed given the modeling efforts discussed herein.

author list (cited authors)

  • Beeny, B., & Vierow, K.

citation count

  • 4

publication date

  • November 2015