About Project FORTE

The UK Government Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has tasked Frazer-Nash Consultancy and our partner organisations with delivering the Digital Reactor Design: Nuclear Thermal Hydraulics research and innovation project. This work forms part of the Nuclear Innovation Programme (NIP).

Phase 1 of the programme (2017 to 2019) comprises two parts:

  • The specification and initial development of innovative nuclear thermal hydraulic modelling methods and tools
  • The specification of a new national nuclear thermal hydraulics facility in the UK

Phase 2 of the programme (2019 to 2021) concentrates on modelling heat transfer and natural convection in single phase flows with an emphasis on CFD methods. This advances the objectives of increasing the skills of UK engineering in modern digital methods and provides a predictive modelling capability for passive safety arguments that is relevant to all SMR and advanced reactor technologies.

The work is intended to consider all future reactor technologies including Gen III+, small modular reactors and advanced reactor technologies.

Motivation for Project FORTE

Thermal hydraulics underpins the performance and safety of all SMR and advanced reactor technologies. The ability to model reactor thermal hydraulics with confidence is essential to achieving enhanced designs and a high level of safety assurance.

Limitations and uncertainty in thermal hydraulic predictive techniques and understanding (computational and experimental) lead to: increased costs required to demonstrate safe operation; and reduced generation as the reactors are operated below their full potential to maintain adequate safety margins. Since reducing cost is perhaps the most pressing requirement for the civil nuclear industry world-wide, improvement in and demonstration of predictive techniques is key to the future of nuclear power.

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Specific requirements to support a strong thermal hydraulics capability in the UK are:

  • UK National Nuclear Thermal Hydraulic Facility - Helping deliver a national thermal hydraulic experimental facility to develop and validate new thermal hydraulic models.
  • Model Development and Validation Programmes - Devising and implementing new thermal hydraulics models, able to accurately predict passive flows and regimes associated with SMRs and advanced reactor technologies will aid the design, development and evaluation of future reactor designs.
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Our Vision for project FORTE

Our vision is to develop an integrated experimental and modelling capability in nuclear thermal hydraulics across industry and academia in order to enable the UK to be a significant partner in the global deployment of advanced reactor technologies

Advancing reactor thermal hydraulics modelling to aid the design and development of future reactor designs.

Our Work

Improving the design, efficiency and reliability of nuclear plant

This work focuses on the specifics of what modelling capability is needed by the end users/developers, thus providing the most effective targeting for investment. As this originates from the developers of future nuclear power, this provides direct routes for state of the art thermal hydraulics modelling to improve the efficiency and reliability of nuclear plant now and in the future.

The Challenge
Skills and capability development in an area fundamental to reactor design

Identifying the areas for development alongside reactor developers provides the UK with an unprecedented opportunity to develop the right models and capability to help improve the efficiency and reliability of nuclear plant now and in the future.

Meeting the Challenge
Define, Understand and Develop State of the Art

The vision is to develop an integrated modelling and experimental capability in nuclear thermal hydraulics across industry and academia to enable the UK to be a significant partner in the global deployment of current and advanced reactor technologies. To accomplish this, Frazer-Nash Consultancy has formed and led a team of partners (The University of Manchester, The University of Sheffield, Westinghouse, EDF Energy and the Science and Technology Facilities Council). Phase 1 of the modelling project is now complete with the technical approach summarised as:

  • A critical review of the state-of-the-art in thermal hydraulic prediction capability.
  • Review of user requirements for modelling capability. This highlighted the need for:
    • Quantification of uncertainty in Computational Fluid Dynamics to increase ‘trust’ in advanced thermal hydraulic models;
    • High quality validation data to support model development and reactor design activities;
    • Innovative combination of modelling tools and techniques for quicker and more complete physical analysis;
    • Improvements in the understanding and simulation of four thermal hydraulic phenomena: natural convection, two-phase flow, single phase turbulent mixing, and fluid flow driven component fatigue.
  • A specification for an innovative thermal hydraulics modelling capability.
  • Work has already begun on prioritised, initial model development.


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