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Infiltration of molten fluoride salts in graphite: Phenomenology and engineering considerations for reactor operations and wa...

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Journal of Nuclear Materials
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The possibility and consequences of salt-infiltration in graphite must be evaluated for graphite used in molten salt reactors (MSRs) and fluoride-salt-cooled high-temperature reactors (FHRs), which can be subjected to salt pressures as high as 500 kPa. The volume of graphite porosity infiltrated by salt can be measured by direct infiltration and it can be predicted from the graphite pore size distribution, the surface tension of the salt, and the contact angle between the graphite and the salt. While these three properties are believed to be insensitive to irradiation, the former can be impacted by chronic or acute oxidation, and the latter two are highly sensitive to the chemistry of the salt and to events such as air ingress. For MSRs, predictions based on nominal properties of salt and graphite reveal that few graphite grades would satisfy the 4 vol% limit set in the Molten Salt Reactor Experiment, and even fewer would satisfy the 0.5 vol% design target. For FHRs, infiltration limits have not been defined and depend on the effect of infiltration on graphite properties, which are discussed. A hypothesis is presented for properties that may be impacted by infiltration and for which future studies are needed.