Title page for ETD etd-05182011-120702

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Boulanger, Andrew James
Author's Email Address aboulang@vt.edu
URN etd-05182011-120702
Title Feasibility Study of a Natural Uranium Neutron Spallation Target using FLiBe as a Coolant
Degree Master of Science
Department Mechanical Engineering
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Pierson, Mark A. Committee Chair
Brown, Eugene F. Committee Member
Vogelaar, Robert Bruce Committee Member
  • Uranium
  • FLiBe
  • CFD
  • Spallation
  • Proton
  • Neutron
Date of Defense 2011-05-10
Availability restricted
The research conducted was a feasibility study using Lithium Fluoride-Beryllium Fluoride (LiF-BeF2) or FLiBe as a coolant with a natural uranium neutron spallation source applied to an accelerator driven sub-critical molten salt reactor. The study utilized two different software tools, MCNPX 2.6 and FLUENT 12.1. MCNPX was used to determine the neutronics and heat deposited in the spallation target structure while FLUENT was used to determine the feasibility of cooling the target structure with FLiBe. Several target structures were analyzed using a variety of plates and large cylinders of natural uranium with a proton beam incident on a Hastelloy-N window. The supporting structures were created from Hastelloy-N due to their anti-corrosive properties of molten salts such as FLiBe and their resistance to neutron damage. The final design chosen was a “Sandwich” design utilizing a section of thick plates followed by several smaller plates then finally a section of thick plates to stop any protons from irradiating the bottom of the target support structure or the containment vessel of the reactor. Utilizing a proton beam with 0.81 MW of proton beam power at 1.35 mA with proton kinetic energies of 600 MeV, the total heat generated in the spallation target was about 0.9 MW due to fissions in the natural uranium. Additionally, the neutrons produced from the final design of the spallation target were approximately 1.25x1018 neutrons per second which were mainly fast neutrons. The use of a natural uranium target proved to be very promising. However, cooling the target using FLiBe would require further optimization or investigation into alternate coolants. Specifically, the final design developed using FLiBe as a coolant was not practically feasible due to the hydraulic forces resulting from the high flow rates necessary to keep the natural uranium target structures cooled. The primary reason for the lack of a feasible solution was the FLiBe as a coolant; FLiBe is unable to pull enough heat generated in the target out of the target structure. Due to the high energy density of a natural uranium spallation target structure, a more effective method of cooling will be required to avoid high hydraulic forces, such as a liquid metal coolant like lead-bismuth eutectic.
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