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DOE funds research into molten metal-water systems

Michael L. Corradini

Michael L. Corradini (large image)

When high temperature liquid metal of 1000 °K (1340 °F) or more comes into contact with water, the resultant vapor formation is rapid and may become explosive. The control and quantification of this rapid heat transfer situation is the major focus of a new three-year $1,400,000 grant from the Department of Energy. Engineering Physics faculty members, Michael L. Corradini and Riccardo Bonazza, of the Wisconsin Institute of Nuclear Systems, are to design and conduct experiments which would obtain fundamental information on interfacial transport phenomena and stability of molten metal-water systems. Innovations in nuclear reactor system concepts rely on heat transfer components which employ the nuking of molten metal and water. If the rapid heat transfer becomes unstable, the situation can produce a "steam explosion."

Riccardo  Bonazza

Riccardo Bonazza (large image)

The study of these steam explosions is also related to these past concepts as well as to industrial waste-processing techniques in which a water solution of toxic organic compounds is injected into a pool of molten iron. To examine molten metal-water interactions in a controlled manner, Corradini and Bonazza will develop experimental chambers in simulant heat transport systems. The chambers would contain liquid metal with water injected from below through an injection port. A recently developed X-ray imaging system at the UW Tantulus facility will be used to examine the heat transfer process, on a real-time basis, between these two fluids as steam is produced. This imaging is unique and first to be able to capture these rapid multiphase phenomena with high temporal and spatial precision. Further information can be found at the website;