In general, total fuel assembly pressure drop is formed by fuel bundle frictional drop (dependent on relative roughness of fuel rods, reynolds number, hydraulic diameter etc.) and other pressure drops of structural elements (top and bottom nozzle, spacing grids or mixing grids).
See also: Fluid Acceleration – Pressure Loss
In general, it is not so simple to calculate pressure drops in fuel assemblies (especially the spacing grids) and it belongs to key know-how of certain fuel manufacturer. Mostly, pressure drops are measured in experimental hydraulic loops, rather than calculated.
Engineers use the pressure loss coefficient, PLC. It is noted K or ξ (pronounced “xi”). This coefficient characterizes pressure loss of a certain hydraulic system or of a part of a hydraulic system. It can be easily measured in hydraulic loops. The pressure loss coefficient can be defined or measured for both straight pipes and especially for local (minor) losses.
Using data from below mentioned example, the pressure loss coefficient (only frictional from straight pipe) is equal to ξ = fDL/DH = 4.9. But the overall pressure loss coefficient (including spacing grids, top and bottom nozzles etc.) is usually about three times higher. This PLC (ξ = 4.9) causes that the pressure drop is of the order of (using the previous inputs) Δpfriction = 4.9 x 714 x 52/ 2 = 43.7 kPa (without spacing grids, top and bottom nozzles). About three times higher real PLC means about three times higher Δpfuel will be.
The overall reactor pressure loss, Δpreactor, must include:
- downcomer and reactor bottom
- lower support plate
- fuel assembly including spacing grids, top and bottom nozzles and other structural components – Δpfuel
- upper guide structure assembly
In result the overall reactor pressure loss – Δpreactor is usually of the order of hundreds kPa (let say 300 – 400 kPa) for design parameters.
It is an illustrative example, previous data do not correspond to any reactor design.