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Small Gas Bubble Experiment for Mitigation of Cavitation Damage and Pressure Waves in Short-pulse Mercury Spallation Targets...

Publication Type
Journal Name
Journal of Nuclear Materials
Publication Date
Page Numbers
192 to 203

Populations of small helium gas bubbles were introduced into a flowing mercury experiment test loop to evaluate mitigation of beam-pulse induced cavitation damage and pressure waves. The test loop was developed and thoroughly tested at the Spallation Neutron Source (SNS) prior to irradiations at the Los Alamos Neutron Science Center - Weapons Neutron Research Center (LANSCE-WNR) facility. Twelve candidate bubblers were evaluated over a range of mercury flow and gas injection rates by use of a novel optical measurement technique that accurately assessed the generated bubble size distributions. Final selection for irradiation testing included two variations of a swirl bubbler provided by Japan Proton Accelerator Research Complex (J-PARC) collaborators and one orifice bubbler developed at SNS. Bubble populations of interest consisted of sizes up to 150 ┬Ám in radius with achieved gas void fractions in the 10^-5 to 10^-4 range. The nominal WNR beam pulse used for the experiment created energy deposition in the mercury comparable to SNS pulses operating at 2.5 MW. Nineteen test conditions were completed each with 100 pulses, including variations on mercury flow, gas injection and protons per pulse. The principal measure of cavitation damage mitigation was surface damage assessment on test specimens that were manually replaced for each test condition. Damage assessment was done after radiation decay and decontamination by optical and laser profiling microscopy with damaged area fraction and maximum pit depth being the more valued results. Damage was reduced by flow alone; the best mitigation from bubble injection was between half and a quarter that of flow alone. Other data collected included surface motion tracking by three laser Doppler vibrometers (LDV), loop wall dynamic strain, beam diagnostics for charge and beam profile assessment, embedded hydrophones and pressure sensors, and sound measurement by a suite of conventional and contact microphones.