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Liquid Metal

Thermo-Magnetic Systems

Liquid alloy systems have a high degree of thermal conductivity far superior to ordinary non-metallic liquids and inherent high densities and electrical conductivity. This results in the use of these materials for specific heat conducting and/or dissipation applications.

Typical applications for liquid metals include heat transfer systems, and thermal cooling and heating designs. Uniquely, they can be used to conduct heat and/or electricity between non-metallic and metallic surfaces. The motion of liquid metals in strong magnetic fields generally induces electric currents, which, while interacting with the magnetic field, produce electromagnetic forces. Thermo-magnetic systems, such as electromagnetic pumps or electromagnetic flow meters, exploit the fact that liquid metals are conducting fluids capable of carrying currents source of electromagnetic fields useful for pumping and diagnostics.

Software and Computational Tools

We are developing software and computational tools for the design, analysis and fabrication of liquid metal thermo-magnetic systems with emphasis in annular linear induction pumps for nuclear, space and industrial applications as well as for the study of magneto-hydrodynamics (MHD) phenomena that will enable the construction of optimized devices and components as well as new computational libraries and solvers.

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Fabrication through Advanced and Traditional Manufacturing

In the fabrication process of liquid metal thermo-magnetic systems in general and of annular linear induction pumps in particular, special care should be taken with the materials selected, its fabrication and assembly methodology, instrumentation, and thermal and structural stresses. The latter requires not only a study of the topics mentioned but also an exhaustive quality assurance and quality control mechanism to be in place. There is no company in the United States that fabricate ALIPs and neither that provides the high temperature components and parts needed. This is an issue that we are addressing and we aim to resolve while testing and validating our computational methods and tools. Using CAD/CAM software we found ways to minimize the number of parts, components and processes involved in the fabrication of the ALIP components using additive manufacturing.

We aim to validate our methods and design, fabrication and optimization tools experimentally while developing advanced manufacturing capabilities reactivating the U.S. capability for the design and fabrication of this type of nuclear components.

NASA FSP ALIP
ALIP originally designed and constructed for the NASA FSP technology program
NASA FSP ALIP 3Dprinting
Design for the NASA 40 KWe fission surface power technology project with an increased in efficiency of over a 100 % with respect to their original design.
TREAT facility ALIP internal
Internal structure of a 2 pole ALIP based on the historical design for the TREAT facility
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Sponsored by

Work supported by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science, under Award Number DE-SC0013992 (Advanced Nuclear Technologies)

CASE STUDY: The Transient Reactor Test Facility at the Idaho National Laboratory

The Transient Reactor Test Facility at Idaho National Laboratory (INL) was specifically built to conduct transient reactor tests where the test material is subjected to neutron pulses that can simulate conditions ranging from mild upsets to severe reactor accidents. The Transient Reactor Test Facility, commonly referred to as TREAT, is an air- and metal- cooled, thermal spectrum test facility designed to evaluate reactor fuels and structural materials.


In a collaborative effort with the Idaho National Laboratory, we will design the Sodium annular linear induction pumps for the TREAT facility, we will build a prototype to validate our computational methods & the TREAT electromagnetic pumps design and we will bid to manufacture the annular linear induction pumps needed by the TREAT facility using the optimized design developed using our computational methods and validated with a prototype.

Sponsored by

Work supported by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science, under Award Number DE-SC0013992 (Advanced Nuclear Technologies)

 

TREAT historically tested fuel specimens for various reactor designs, but none more than four fast breeder reactors cooled by liquid sodium. The historic irradiation vehicles used for these tests were the highly successful MK series sodium loops. One of the pivotal technologies that enabled these loops, and in turn TREAT testing of sodium cooled fuel systems, was the Annular Linear Induction Pump (ALIP). These electromagnetic pumps were ideal due to their compact form factor, high reliability due to lack of moving parts, and simple pipe like pressure boundary. Although the general geometric and performance characteristics for MK series ALIP’s are available in historic engineering documents, recovery and improvement of their design is difficult since historic electrical circuit models of their performance required empirically derived correction factors. Furthermore, reverse engineering is hampered by that fact that most of these ALIP’s were disposed as radiologic waste. For these reasons, modern tools which enable the design of ALIP’s are highly valuable to future transient experiments on liquid metal cooled fuel designs. To date, MAIDANA RESEARCH has been collaborating diligently with the INL team under the phase 1 SBIR entitled “Computational Tools for the Design of Liquid Metal Thermomagnetic Systems”.

 

Nicolas Woolstenhulme
Design and Engineering Lead for TREAT Experiment Vehicles