Experiments and computational fluid dynamics/radiation heat transfer simulations of an 8×8 array of heated rods within an aluminum enclosure are performed with nitrogen and helium as backfill gases in both horizontal and vertical orientations. This configuration represents a region inside the channel of a boiling water reactor fuel assembly between two consecutive spacer plates. The rods can be oriented horizontally or vertically to represent transport or storage conditions. The measured and simulated rod temperatures are compared for three different rod heat generation rates to assess the accuracy of the simulation technique. Simulations show that temperature gradients in the air are much steeper near the enclosure walls than they are near the center of the rod array. The measured temperatures of rods at symmetric locations are not identical, and the difference is larger for rods close to the wall than for those far from it. Small but uncontrolled deviations of the rod positions away from the design locations may cause these differences. The simulations reproduce the measured temperature profiles. For nitrogen experiment in horizontal orientation and a total rod heat generation rate of 500 W, the maximum rod-to-enclosure temperature difference is 138°C. The maximum measured heater rod and enclosure wall temperatures 375°C and 280°C, are measured in 2-inch insulated, nitrogen backfill vertical experiment for 1 atm internal pressure. Linear regression shows that the simulations slightly but systematically under predict the hotter rod temperatures but accurately predict the cooler ones. For all rod locations, heat generation rates, nitrogen and helium backfill gases, and apparatus orientations, 95% of the simulated temperatures are within 11°C of the correlation values. These results can be used to assess the accuracy of using simulations to design spent nuclear fuel transport and storage systems.

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