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Heavy-Metal Aerosol Transport in a Lead-Bismuth-Cooled Fast Reactor with In-Vessel Direct-Contact Steam Generation

J. Buongiorno, N. E. Todreas, M. S. Kazimi

Nuclear Technology

Volume 138 / Number 1 / April 2002 / Pages 30-43


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The choice of lead or lead alloys (Pb-Bi) as the coolant of a fast reactor offers the potential for enhanced safety and reliability due to their benign physical and chemical characteristics. In an effort to assess this class of coolants in advanced nuclear systems of the next generation, an innovative fast reactor concept that eliminates the need for steam generators and main coolant pumps and thus offers capital and operating cost reduction was explored. The working steam is generated by direct-contact vaporization of water by liquid metal in the chimney above the core and is then sent directly to the turbine. The presence of a lighter fluid in the chimney substantially enhances the natural circulation of the Pb-Bi within the reactor pool. A key technical issue of this reactor concept is the consequences of Pb-Bi aerosol generation within the vessel, its transport within the power cycle components and impact on the design and operation of the turbine.

Generation, transport, and deposition of Pb-Bi aerosols were modeled. It was found that the utilization of a suitable chevron steam separator design reduces the heavy-liquid metal transported to the steam lines by about three orders of magnitude. Nevertheless, the residual Pb-Bi (~0.003 kg/s) is predicted to be sufficient to cause embrittlement of the turbine blades if conventional materials are used and the plant is to operate for 40 yr. Four solutions to this problem were assessed and found potentially viable from a technical standpoint: blade coating, employment of alternative materials, electrostatic precipitation, and oxidation of the Pb-Bi droplets.

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