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Title: Modeling and Validation of Sodium Plugging for Heat Exchangers in Sodium-cooled Fast Reactor Systems

The project “Modeling and Validation of Sodium Plugging for Heat Exchangers in Sodium-cooled Fast Reactor Systems” was conducted jointly by Westinghouse Electric Company (Westinghouse) and Argonne National Laboratory (ANL), over the period October 1, 2013- March 31, 2016. The project’s motivation was the need to provide designers of Sodium Fast Reactors (SFRs) with a validated, state-of-the-art computational tool for the prediction of sodium oxide (Na2O) deposition in small-diameter sodium heat exchanger (HX) channels, such as those in the diffusion bonded HXs proposed for SFRs coupled with a supercritical CO2 (sCO2) Brayton cycle power conversion system. In SFRs, Na2O deposition can potentially occur following accidental air ingress in the intermediate heat transport system (IHTS) sodium and simultaneous failure of the IHTS sodium cold trap. In this scenario, oxygen can travel through the IHTS loop and reach the coldest regions, represented by the cold end of the sodium channels of the HXs, where Na2O precipitation may initiate and continue. In addition to deteriorating HX heat transfer and pressure drop performance, Na2O deposition can lead to channel plugging especially when the size of the sodium channels is small, which is the case for diffusion bonded HXs whose sodium channel hydraulic diameter is generallymore » below 5 mm. Sodium oxide melts at a high temperature well above the sodium melting temperature such that removal of a solid plug such as through dissolution by pure sodium could take a lengthy time. The Sodium Plugging Phenomena Loop (SPPL) was developed at ANL, prior to this project, for investigating Na2O deposition phenomena within sodium channels that are prototypical of the diffusion bonded HX channels envisioned for SFR-sCO2 systems. In this project, a Computational Fluid Dynamic (CFD) model capable of simulating the thermal-hydraulics of the SPPL test section and provided with Na2O deposition prediction capabilities, was developed. This state-of-the-art computational tool incorporates a first-principles Na2O deposition model developed by ANL, and combines it with predictive capabilities for the spatial and temporal variation of temperature, velocity, dissolved oxygen concentration, and wall temperature under flowing sodium conditions. The CFD model was validated under no-deposition conditions using experimental data collected with the SPPL, demonstrating the model’s capability to predict the thermal-hydraulics of the SPPL test section within the measurement uncertainty characterizing the SPPL instrumentation. The model’s deposition prediction capability was not, however, validated as the SPPL could not be operated under plugging conditions during the project, resulting in the lack of deposition data with adequate pedigree for a CFD model validation. Two novel diagnostic techniques to detect and characterize Na2O deposits, i.e. Ultrasonic Time Domain Reflectometry (UTDR) and Potential Drop (PD) techniques, were developed to ultimately assist in the validation effort under plugging conditions, which can be performed once the SPPL becomes operational. This development effort consisted first in demonstrating, analytically and/or computationally, the capability of these techniques to diagnose Na2O deposits inside of small channels (particularly the deposit’s thickness), and subsequently in the fabrication and testing of prototypical UTDR and PD instrumentation. The testing, performed on mockups of the SPPL test section, demonstrated the capability of these techniques to detect and characterize material discontinuities like those induced by sodium oxide deposition on stainless steel channel walls. Because of the mentioned impossibility to run the SPPL in a plugging mode, the developed instrumentation could not be tested in-situ, i.e. at the SPPL while deposits are being formed inside of the SPPL test section. Recommended future work includes a possible enhancement in the CFD modeling technique and installation of the developed UTDR and PD instrumentation on the test section, followed by plugging tests to be conducted with the SPPL. The installation of the UTDR and PD diagnostic instrumentation on the SPPL test section will allow collection of Na2O deposition data after the onset of deposition to nearly complete channel plugging, which can ultimately be used for the validation of the CFD model.« less
 [1] ;  [2] ;  [2] ;  [3] ;  [3] ;  [3] ;  [3]
  1. Westinghouse Electric Company LLC, Cranberry Township, PA (United States). Global Technology Development
  2. Westinghouse Electric Company LLC, Cranberry Township, PA (United States)
  3. Argonne National Lab. (ANL), Argonne, IL (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Resource Relation:
Related Information: Due to their size, CFD files developed during the project are not attached to this report. They are stored on Westinghouse servers and are available upon request.
Research Org:
Westinghouse Electric Company LLC, Cranberry Township, PA (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Nuclear Energy (NE)
Contributing Orgs:
Argonne National Lab. (ANL), Argonne, IL (United States)
Country of Publication:
United States
21 SPECIFIC NUCLEAR REACTORS AND ASSOCIATED PLANTS; 46 INSTRUMENTATION RELATED TO NUCLEAR SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY; 97 MATHEMATICS AND COMPUTING sodium oxide deposition; sodium oxide plugging; diffusion-bonded heat exchangers; sodium fast reactor; CFD; ultrasonic time domain reflectometry; potential drop technique; heat exchanger channel plugging