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Title: Assessment of Candidate Molten Salt Coolants for the Advanced High Temperature Reactor (AHTR)

Abstract

The Advanced High-Temperature Reactor (AHTR) is a novel reactor design that utilizes the graphite-matrix high-temperature fuel of helium-cooled reactors, but provides cooling with a high-temperature fluoride salt. For applications at temperatures greater than 900 C the AHTR is also referred to as a Liquid-Salt-Cooled Very High-Temperature Reactor (LS-VHTR). This report provides an assessment of candidate salts proposed as the primary coolant for the AHTR based upon a review of physical properties, nuclear properties, and chemical factors. The physical properties most relevant for coolant service were reviewed. Key chemical factors that influence material compatibility were also analyzed for the purpose of screening salt candidates. Some simple screening factors related to the nuclear properties of salts were also developed. The moderating ratio and neutron-absorption cross-section were compiled for each salt. The short-lived activation products, long-lived transmutation activity, and reactivity coefficients associated with various salt candidates were estimated using a computational model. Table A presents a summary of the properties of the candidate coolant salts. Certain factors in this table, such as melting point, vapor pressure, and nuclear properties, can be viewed as stand-alone parameters for screening candidates. Heat-transfer properties are considered as a group in Sect. 3 in order to evaluate themore » combined effects of various factors. In the course of this review, it became apparent that the state of the properties database was strong in some areas and weak in others. A qualitative map of the state of the database and predictive capabilities is given in Table B. It is apparent that the property of thermal conductivity has the greatest uncertainty and is the most difficult to measure. The database, with respect to heat capacity, can be improved with modern instruments and modest effort. In general, ''lighter'' (low-Z) salts tend to exhibit better heat transfer and nuclear performance metrics. Lighter salts also tend to have more favorable (larger) moderating ratios, and thus should have a more favorable coolant-voiding behavior in-core. Heavy (high-Z) salts tend to have lower heat capacities and thermal conductivities and more significant activation and transmutation products. However, all of the salts are relatively good heat-transfer agents. A detailed discussion of each property and the combination of properties that served as a heat-transfer metric is presented in the body of this report. In addition to neutronic metrics, such as moderating ratio and neutron absorption, the activation properties of the salts were investigated (Table C). Again, lighter salts tend to have more favorable activation properties compared to salts with high atomic-number constituents. A simple model for estimating the reactivity coefficients associated with a reduction of salt content in the core (voiding or thermal expansion) was also developed, and the primary parameters were investigated. It appears that reasonable design flexibility exists to select a safe combination of fuel-element design and salt coolant for most of the candidate salts. Materials compatibility is an overriding consideration for high-temperature reactors; therefore the question was posed whether any one of the candidate salts was inherently, or significantly, more corrosive than another. This is a very complex subject, and it was not possible to exclude any fluoride salts based on the corrosion database. The corrosion database clearly indicates superior container alloys, but the effect of salt identity is masked by many factors which are likely more important (impurities, redox condition) in the testing evidence than salt identity. Despite this uncertainty, some reasonable preferences can be recommended, and these are indicated in the conclusions. The reasoning to support these conclusions is established in the body of this report.« less

Authors:
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE
OSTI Identifier:
885975
Report Number(s):
ORNL/TM-2006/12
TRN: US0604125
DOE Contract Number:
DE-AC05-00OR22725
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
21 SPECIFIC NUCLEAR REACTORS AND ASSOCIATED PLANTS; ATOMIC NUMBER; COOLANTS; HEAT TRANSFER; MELTING POINTS; MODERATING RATIO; MOLTEN SALTS; NUCLEAR PROPERTIES; PHYSICAL PROPERTIES; REACTIVITY COEFFICIENTS; SPECIFIC HEAT; THERMAL CONDUCTIVITY; THERMAL EXPANSION; VAPOR PRESSURE

Citation Formats

Williams, D.F. Assessment of Candidate Molten Salt Coolants for the Advanced High Temperature Reactor (AHTR). United States: N. p., 2006. Web. doi:10.2172/885975.
Williams, D.F. Assessment of Candidate Molten Salt Coolants for the Advanced High Temperature Reactor (AHTR). United States. doi:10.2172/885975.
Williams, D.F. 2006. "Assessment of Candidate Molten Salt Coolants for the Advanced High Temperature Reactor (AHTR)". United States. doi:10.2172/885975. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/885975.
@article{osti_885975,
title = {Assessment of Candidate Molten Salt Coolants for the Advanced High Temperature Reactor (AHTR)},
author = {Williams, D.F.},
abstractNote = {The Advanced High-Temperature Reactor (AHTR) is a novel reactor design that utilizes the graphite-matrix high-temperature fuel of helium-cooled reactors, but provides cooling with a high-temperature fluoride salt. For applications at temperatures greater than 900 C the AHTR is also referred to as a Liquid-Salt-Cooled Very High-Temperature Reactor (LS-VHTR). This report provides an assessment of candidate salts proposed as the primary coolant for the AHTR based upon a review of physical properties, nuclear properties, and chemical factors. The physical properties most relevant for coolant service were reviewed. Key chemical factors that influence material compatibility were also analyzed for the purpose of screening salt candidates. Some simple screening factors related to the nuclear properties of salts were also developed. The moderating ratio and neutron-absorption cross-section were compiled for each salt. The short-lived activation products, long-lived transmutation activity, and reactivity coefficients associated with various salt candidates were estimated using a computational model. Table A presents a summary of the properties of the candidate coolant salts. Certain factors in this table, such as melting point, vapor pressure, and nuclear properties, can be viewed as stand-alone parameters for screening candidates. Heat-transfer properties are considered as a group in Sect. 3 in order to evaluate the combined effects of various factors. In the course of this review, it became apparent that the state of the properties database was strong in some areas and weak in others. A qualitative map of the state of the database and predictive capabilities is given in Table B. It is apparent that the property of thermal conductivity has the greatest uncertainty and is the most difficult to measure. The database, with respect to heat capacity, can be improved with modern instruments and modest effort. In general, ''lighter'' (low-Z) salts tend to exhibit better heat transfer and nuclear performance metrics. Lighter salts also tend to have more favorable (larger) moderating ratios, and thus should have a more favorable coolant-voiding behavior in-core. Heavy (high-Z) salts tend to have lower heat capacities and thermal conductivities and more significant activation and transmutation products. However, all of the salts are relatively good heat-transfer agents. A detailed discussion of each property and the combination of properties that served as a heat-transfer metric is presented in the body of this report. In addition to neutronic metrics, such as moderating ratio and neutron absorption, the activation properties of the salts were investigated (Table C). Again, lighter salts tend to have more favorable activation properties compared to salts with high atomic-number constituents. A simple model for estimating the reactivity coefficients associated with a reduction of salt content in the core (voiding or thermal expansion) was also developed, and the primary parameters were investigated. It appears that reasonable design flexibility exists to select a safe combination of fuel-element design and salt coolant for most of the candidate salts. Materials compatibility is an overriding consideration for high-temperature reactors; therefore the question was posed whether any one of the candidate salts was inherently, or significantly, more corrosive than another. This is a very complex subject, and it was not possible to exclude any fluoride salts based on the corrosion database. The corrosion database clearly indicates superior container alloys, but the effect of salt identity is masked by many factors which are likely more important (impurities, redox condition) in the testing evidence than salt identity. Despite this uncertainty, some reasonable preferences can be recommended, and these are indicated in the conclusions. The reasoning to support these conclusions is established in the body of this report.},
doi = {10.2172/885975},
journal = {},
number = ,
volume = ,
place = {United States},
year = 2006,
month = 3
}

Technical Report:

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  • This report provides an assessment of candidate salts proposed as the coolant for the loop that shuttles heat from the Next Generation Nuclear Plant (NGNP) to the Nuclear Hydrogen Initiative (NHI) hydrogen-production plant. The physical properties most relevant for coolant service were reviewed, and key chemical factors that influence material compatibility were also analyzed for the purpose of screening candidate salts. A preliminary assessment of the cost of the raw materials required to produce the coolant is also presented. Salts that are suitable for use as the primary coolant in a high-temperature nuclear reactor were previously analyzed. Some of themore » fluoride salts identified in the previous study are also appropriate for consideration as the secondary coolant in a heat-transfer loop; therefore, results from the previous report are used in this document. However, alternative coolant salts (i.e., chlorides and fluoroborates) that were not considered in the previous report should be considered for service in the heat-transfer loop. These alternative coolants are considered in this report.« less
  • A new reactor plant concept is presented that combines the benefits of ceramic-coated, high-temperature particle fuel with those of clean, high-temperature, low-pressure molten salt coolant. The Advanced High-Temperature Reactor (AHTR) concept is a collaboration of Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories, and the University of California at Berkeley. The purpose of the concept is to provide an advanced design capable of satisfying the top-level functional requirements of the U.S. Department of Energy Next Generation Nuclear Plant (NGNP), while also providing a technology base that is sufficiently robust to allow future development paths to higher temperatures and larger outputs withmore » highly competitive economics. This report summarizes the status of the AHTR preconceptual design. It captures the results from an intense effort over a period of 3 months to (1) screen and examine potential feasibility concerns with the concept; (2) refine the conceptual design of major systems; and (3) identify research, development, and technology requirements to fully mature the AHTR design. Several analyses were performed and are presented to quantify the AHTR performance expectations and to assist in the selection of several design parameters. The AHTR, like other NGNP reactor concepts, uses coated particle fuel in a graphite matrix. But unlike the other NGNP concepts, the AHTR uses molten salt rather than helium as the primary system coolant. The considerable previous experience with molten salts in nuclear environments is discussed, and the status of high-temperature materials is reviewed. The large thermal inertia of the system, the excellent heat transfer and fission product retention characteristics of molten salt, and the low-pressure operation of the primary system provide significant safety attributes for the AHTR. Compared with helium coolant, a molten salt cooled reactor will have significantly lower fuel temperatures (150-200-C lower) for the equivalent temperature of heat delivered to either the power conversion system or a hydrogen production plant. Using a comparative cost analysis, the construction costs per unit output are projected to be 50-55% of the costs for modular gas-cooled or sodium-cooled reactor systems. This is primarily a consequence of substantially larger power output and higher conversion efficiency for the AHTR. The AHTR has a number of unique technical challenges in meeting the NGNP requirements; however, it appears to offer advantages over high-temperature helium-cooled reactors and provides an alternative development path to achieve the NGNP requirements. Primary challenges include optimizing the core design for improved response to transients, designing an internal blanket to thermally protect the reactor vessel, and engineering solutions to high-temperature refueling and maintenance.« less
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