Publications / SAND Report

Computational Fluid Dynamic simulations of pipe elbow flow

Homicz, Gregory F.

One problem facing today's nuclear power industry is flow-accelerated corrosion and erosion in pipe elbows. The Korean Atomic Energy Research Institute (KAERI) is performing experiments in their Flow-Accelerated Corrosion (FAC) test loop to better characterize these phenomena, and develop advanced sensor technologies for the condition monitoring of critical elbows on a continuous basis. In parallel with these experiments, Sandia National Laboratories is performing Computational Fluid Dynamic (CFD) simulations of the flow in one elbow of the FAC test loop. The simulations are being performed using the FLUENT commercial software developed and marketed by Fluent, Inc. The model geometry and mesh were created using the GAMBIT software, also from Fluent, Inc. This report documents the results of the simulations that have been made to date; baseline results employing the RNG k-e turbulence model are presented. The predicted value for the diametrical pressure coefficient is in reasonably good agreement with published correlations. Plots of the velocities, pressure field, wall shear stress, and turbulent kinetic energy adjacent to the wall are shown within the elbow section. Somewhat to our surprise, these indicate that the maximum values of both wall shear stress and turbulent kinetic energy occur near the elbow entrance, on the inner radius of the bend. Additional simulations were performed for the same conditions, but with the RNG k-e model replaced by either the standard k-{var_epsilon}, or the realizable k-{var_epsilon} turbulence model. The predictions using the standard k-{var_epsilon} model are quite similar to those obtained in the baseline simulation. However, with the realizable k-{var_epsilon} model, more significant differences are evident. The maximums in both wall shear stress and turbulent kinetic energy now appear on the outer radius, near the elbow exit, and are {approx}11% and 14% greater, respectively, than those predicted in the baseline calculation; secondary maxima in both quantities still occur near the elbow entrance on the inner radius. Which set of results better reflects reality must await experimental corroboration. Additional calculations demonstrate that whether or not FLUENT's radial equilibrium pressure distribution option is used in the PRESSURE OUTLET boundary condition has no significant impact on the flowfield near the elbow. Simulations performed with and without the chemical sensor and associated support bracket that were present in the experiments demonstrate that the latter have a negligible influence on the flow in the vicinity of the elbow. The fact that the maxima in wall shear stress and turbulent kinetic energy occur on the inner radius is therefore not an artifact of having introduced the sensor into the flow.