Liquid metals mass flow rate measurement expertise transferred from fusion to fission
To a liquid metals mass flow rate to study corrosion from lead-lithium and to analyse the performances of tritium extraction technologies…
A fusion-based thermal flow meter was designed and engineered by ENEA Brasimone Research Centre (Italy) taking advantage of a thermal balance across a heating element to perform flow rate measurements of liquid metals flows. The thermal mass flow meter initially designed and developed for fusion applications was successfully transferred in nuclear fission sector, though a collaboration agreement with the French company THERMOCOAX. The basic principle of functioning of the flow meter consists in the application of a thermal balance in the pipe with a thermal source (heating bulb) and inlet-outlet temperature measurements.
The technology was developed by ENEA Brasimone Research Centre, Nuclear Design and Analysis Laboratory,thanks to the extensive know-how on liquid metal technology gathered in years of scientific research on liquid metal technology for breeding blankets carried out in the framework of the EUROfusion program, with particular reference to activities related to lead-lithium alloy for tritium breeding as well as cooling of fusion reactors. The thermal flow meter was designed and manufactured to be adopted in the lead-lithium loops of ITER and DEMO fusion reactors, within the framework of EUROfusion. The technology was already adopted in two fusion-relevant experimental facilities: one dedicated to study corrosion from lead-lithium and the other to analyse the performances of tritium extraction technologies.
… From a very robust and reliable instrumentation for Lead cooled Fast reactors to measure mass flow of molten lead primary coolant.
The non-fusion application of the technology was developed by ENEA in close collaboration with THERMOCOAX, a leading French company active in the manufacturing of custom heating and temperature measurement solutions for a wide range of target industrial and high-tech applications, including nuclear fission. The technology transfer consisted in the adaptation of the flow meter to be applied in nuclear fission, more specifically in Lead cooled Fast reactors to measure mass flow of molten lead primary coolant.
The close collaboration between ENEA and THERMOCOAX brought to the development of a thermal flow meter, specifically designed, engineered and manufactured according to demanding operative conditions of nuclear fission, thanks to the extensive know-how gathered in fusion application. The simple principle of operation of the thermal flow allowed to manufacture a very robust and reliable instrumentation showing optimum performances over long tests.
The thermal flow meter designed for fission application represents a first of its kind technology in the field of reference of measurement instrumentation for liquid metal flows. This peculiarity provided THERMOCOAX with a strategic positioning on the competitive market. Moreover, the high reliability showed by the instrumentation measurement during long tests was very important, representing a relevant feature in demanding applications where material corrosion is a typical issue, as in the liquid lead cooling systems of nuclear fission reactors.