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Cavitation-induced erosion in liquid metal spallation targets – A comparison between a predictive method and measured erosi...

by Drew E Winder, David A Mcclintock, Douglas R Bruce
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Neutrons are produced for neutron scattering instruments at the Spallation Neutron Source by bombarding liquid mercury with a pulsed high-energy proton beam. The liquid mercury target material flows through a replaceable stainless-steel target vessel and cavitates during operation due to the extremely high heating rate caused by each proton pulse. Cavitation-induced erosion damage to the mercury-facing surfaces of target vessels is a key concern for target lifetime and has been the subject of considerable research. While numerous experiments have studied and modeled the progression of cavitation erosion damage to liquid metal target containers, direct quantitative measurements of actual erosion of a spallation target vessel were previously not available. Recently, the erosion damage to multiple target vessels operated at the Spallation Neutron Source was measured using a high-resolution laser scanning system, which provided an opportunity to study the efficacy of a cavitation damage progression model. In this paper, a cavitation progression modeling procedure developed using empirical observations is compared to measurements of samples from target vessels after operation. The strengths and limitations of the technique are discussed and methods for improving future modeling and predictive accuracy are proposed.