Mesoscale simulations of thermal transport in w-uo2 cermet fuel for nuclear thermal propulsion

Marina Sessim, Marvin Barnes, Robert Hickman, Michael Tonks

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Nuclear thermal propulsion (NTP) provides constant power for long space missions, which is a tremendous benefit over chemical rockets. Therefore, a lot of effort in investigating different fuel concepts and geometries has been invested. For applications involving NTP or nuclear power, it is very important that the heat generated by the fissile nuclei can be quickly transferred to the coolant. It is then essential that the fuel has a high thermal conductivity so that minimum stored energy is left inside the fuel. In this project, the thermal performance of a WUO2 CERMET fuel was assessed. The effective thermal conductivity was calculated at the mesoscale for a 3-dimensional microstructure using the MOOSE framework. Then, the results were compared with published literature and analytical solutions. The thermal conductivity calculated using MOOSE was approximately 20% lower than that proposed by the Bruggeman model. The temperature profile in 7, 19 and 61-channel fuel concepts were analyzed using the MOOSE framework. The 61-channel concept had the best performance due to a better ratio of cooling surface area to fuel volume.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationNuclear and Emerging Technologies for Space, NETS 2018
PublisherAmerican Nuclear Society
Number of pages4
ISBN (Print)9781510859609
StatePublished - 2016
EventNuclear and Emerging Technologies for Space, NETS 2018 - Las Vegas, United States
Duration: Feb 26 2018Mar 1 2018

Publication series

NameNuclear and Emerging Technologies for Space, NETS 2018


OtherNuclear and Emerging Technologies for Space, NETS 2018
CountryUnited States
CityLas Vegas

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Nuclear Energy and Engineering

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