Nuclear Technology / Volume 171 / Number 2 / August 2010 / Pages 153-160
Technical Paper / Thermal Hydraulics
A series of experiments was performed to investigate the potential for plugging of narrow flow channels of sodium by impurities (e.g., oxides). In the first phase of the experiments, clean sodium was circulated through the test sections simulating flow channels in a compact diffusion-bonded heat exchanger such as a printed circuit heat exchanger. The primary objective was to see if small channels whose cross sections are semicircles of 2, 4, and 6 mm in diameter are usable in liquid sodium applications where sodium purity is carefully controlled. It was concluded that the 2-mm channels, the smallest of the three, could be used in clean sodium systems at temperatures even as low as 100 to 110°C without plugging. In the second phase, sodium oxide was added to the loop, and the oxygen concentration in the liquid sodium was controlled by means of varying the cold-trap temperature. Intentional plugging was induced by creating a cold spot in the test sections, and the subsequent plugging behavior was observed. It was found that plugging in the 2-mm test section was initiated by lowering the cold spot temperature below the cold-trap temperature by 10 to 30°C. Unplugging of the plugged channels was accomplished by heating the affected test section.