Liquid Metal Cooled Reactors

Liquid metal cooled reactors, such as the sodium-cooled fast reactor (SFR) or the TerraPower traveling wave reactor can be designed to work safely and effectively, however historically they have suffered from non-competitive economics as compared to light water reactors. Advances in technology, modern manufacturing techniques, and the availability of materials and components can make the technology economical. These advances will improve the economics of advanced fast reactors through reductions in welding, quality assurance, fabrication costs and design simplifications.

Additionally, a successful program is dependent on a continued qualified future generation of technical staff that is familiar with the past designs and is capable of developing advanced technology to enhance components. Recent progress in several key areas include:

  • Sodium pumps and flow meters design and testing
  • Oxygen sensors revitalization and development for coolant chemistry control
  • Environmental response of newer high-strength materials to sodium exposure

The goals of this research were to:

  1. Commission a fully operational test facility to conduct a series of sodium tests. Including the capability to test and evaluate pump and flow meters
  2. Test oxygen sensor technology
  3. To enable prototypic flow and temperature tests on advanced alloys to evaluate corrosion

This goal required the construction of a small flow loop with integral cold trap and plugging meter and flow meters. It also required the design and construction of a small scale pump that could achieve a significantly high pressure 40 psi to ensure flow velocities of up to 10m/s past material samples. A test section was also designed that is capable of accommodating up to 10 flat and 10 stressed c-ring samples for materials testing.