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Options for Scaled Experiments for High Temperature Liquid Salt and Helium Fluid Mechanics and Convective Heat Transfer

Philippe M. Bardet, Per F. Peterson

Nuclear Technology / Volume 163 / Number 3 / September 2008 / Pages 344-357

Technical Paper / Molten Salt Chemistry and Technology /

Liquid fluoride salts and helium have desirable properties for use as working fluids for high-temperature (500 to 1000°C) heat transport in fission and fusion applications. This paper presents recent progress in the design and analysis of scaled thermal-hydraulic experiments for fluid mechanics and convective heat transfer in liquid salt and helium systems. It presents a category of heat transfer fluids and a category of light mineral oils that can be used for scaled experiments simulating convective heat transfer in liquid salts. By optimally selecting the length, velocity, average temperature, and temperature difference scales of the experiment, it is possible to simultaneously match the Reynolds, Froude, Prandtl, and Grashof numbers in geometrically scaled experiments operating at low-temperature, reduced length, and velocity scales. Mechanical pumping power and heat input are reduced to ~1 to 2% of the prototype power inputs. Helium fluid mechanics and heat transfer likewise can be simulated by nitrogen following the same procedure. The resulting length, velocity, temperature, and power scales for simulating helium are quite similar to those for the liquid salts, and the pressure scale is reduced greatly compared to the prototypical pressure scale. Steady state and transient heat transfer to a steel and graphite structure can be reproduced with moderate distortion using Pyrex and high-thermal-conductivity epoxies, respectively. Thermal radiation heat transfer cannot be reproduced, so the use of these simulant fluids is limited to those cases where radiation heat transport is small compared to convective heat transport, or where corrections for thermal radiation heat transfer can be introduced in models using convective heat transfer data from the simulant fluids. Likewise for helium flows, compressibility effects are not reproduced.

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