Optical fibre void fraction detection for liquid metal fast neutron reactors

    Research outputpeer-review


    Detection and characterisation of voids in heavy liquid metals (HLM) is required for next generation nuclear reactor systems. However, its determination presents a challenge owing to their opaque nature and the high temperatures involved. Therefore, tools are needed that can be used to capture local, quantitative information at relevant nuclear operating conditions. In this work, the feasibility of using optical fibre sensors for the measurement of void fractions in liquid metals is presented. Since the functioning of optical probes is usually explained by a crude on-off model, the complexity of both the optical response and the hydrodynamic tip–interface interactions often remain hidden to new users. To clarify this point, well-controlled lab-scale experiments dealing with the response of three concept probe tip geometries are presented. Analysis of the obtained signal transients is used to provide guidelines for effective data processing. To conclusively demonstrate the principle, an optimal prototype system successfully determined the local void fraction and frequency in a pilot-scale reactor using liquid lead bismuth eutectic (LBE) as working fluid. The information obtained by the optical sensor allows for validation of computational fluid dynamics (CFD) models to aid the design of LBE-based nuclear reactors, as well as for other liquid metal–gas systems in general.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number109865
    Number of pages14
    JournalExperimental Thermal and Fluid Science
    Early online date13 Jul 2019
    StatePublished - May 2020

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