LIQUID LEAD-BISMUTH EUTECTIC AS A COOLANT IN GENERATION IV NUCLEAR REACTORS AND IN HIGH TEMPERATURE SOLAR CONCENTRATOR APPLICATIONS: CHARACTERISTICS, CHALLENGES, ISSUES
Heavy liquid metals have found a wide range of application in energy conversion systems, due to their beneficial thermal properties, especially their low melting points and their capability of operating at higher temperatures without boiling. In addition, the neutronic properties of various liquid metals make them attractive for fusion as well as in Generation IV nuclear reactors. Lately, concentrated solar power (CSP) systems have developed an interest in this technology, calling for temperatures up to 800 oC. The main challenge in realizing engineering scale units is to find proper structural materials that can withstand the corrosion and provide mechanical strength at operation conditions. Lead-Bismuth Eutectic (LBE) is one of the main candidate coolants for liquid metal cooled reactors and solar thermal power applications due to its physical properties such as good thermal conduction, low thermal expansion and melting point, non-violent reactivity to water and low neutron absorption. However, the key limiting factor for LBE usage is the fact of its high corrosiveness to steels and other structural materials. In this work, the results of our systematic materials study in liquid LBE and its alternatives are presented. Various potential structural materials were exposed to LBE, Rose’s metal (Pb-Bi-Sn) and Pb-Bi-Zn eutectic, in static corrosion tests. Post corrosion characterization was conducted by micro-structural analysis (SEM/EDS, X-ray diffraction, Raman spectroscopy) and preferential corrosion mechanisms were evaluated.
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