Research Papers

Batch-Scale Hydrofluorination of Li27BeF4 to Support Molten Salt Reactor Development

[+] Author and Article Information
Brian C. Kelleher, Kieran P. Dolan, Paul Brooks, Mark H. Anderson, Kumar Sridharan

Thermal Hydraulics Laboratory, Department of Nuclear Engineering,
University of Wisconsin–Madison,
1500 Engineering Drive, Madison, WI 53706

Manuscript received February 6, 2015; final manuscript received May 13, 2015; published online September 3, 2015. Assoc. Editor: Lin-wen Hu.

ASME J of Nuclear Rad Sci 1(4), 041010 (Sep 03, 2015) (12 pages) Paper No: NERS-15-1017; doi: 10.1115/1.4030963 History: Received February 06, 2015; Accepted June 29, 2015; Online September 16, 2015

Li2BeF4, or flibe, is the primary candidate coolant for the fluoride-salt-cooled high-temperature nuclear reactor (FHR). Kilogram quantities of pure flibe are required for repeatable corrosion tests of modern reactor materials. This paper details fluoride salt purification by the hydrofluorination–hydrogen process, which was used to regenerate 57.4 kg of flibe originating from the secondary loop of the molten salt reactor experiment (MSRE) at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). Additionally, it expounds upon necessary handling precautions required to produce high-quality flibe and includes technological advancements which ease the purification and analysis process. Flibe batches produced at the University of Wisconsin are the largest since the MSRE program, enabling new corrosion, radiation, and thermal hydraulic testing around the United States.

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Fig. 1

Nickel purification vessel was wrapped with heaters, placed into the stainless steel vessel, and surrounded by pourable Microtherm insulation. Tubing was kinked to allow for thermal expansion. (a) The nickel purification vessel and (b) the nickel purification vessel assembled into its stainless steel exoskeleton

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Fig. 2

Nickel storage vessels for both natural and lithium-7-enriched flibe

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Fig. 3

Hydrogen fluoride delivery system

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Fig. 4

Filter provided by Porous Metal Filters Inc. was welded into housing, which was put into the transfer line. (a) The filter used to remove nickel and iron from 52.5 kg of purified MSRE coolant salt. (b) The filter unit, shown in the center, attached to the transfer line above the storage vessel.

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Fig. 5

Main page of the flibe batch production LabVIEW™ program. Salt is shown at 500°C during an initial bakeout and sparge with argon. Active lights on the mass flow controls indicate that the system is automatically controlling flow.

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Fig. 6

Vessels that stored the MSRE coolant salt. (a) The Hastelloy® C-276 container which stored 350 kg of the MSRE coolant salt since 1999. (b) The stainless steel transfer tank which was donated to the University of Wisconsin, housing 57.4 kg of MSRE coolant salt.

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Fig. 7

Purified MSRE coolant salt without beryllium reduction

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Fig. 8

“ORNL Beryllium-Reduced” salt shows all the characteristics of a well-purified flibe sample

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Fig. 9

Two examples on how salt quality can vary. (a) Beryllium-reduced flibe (left) compared to poorly reduced flibe containing metal fluorides (right). (b) Beryllium-reduced flibe (left) compared to poorly filtered flibe (right)

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Fig. 10

Flibe poured into a nickel crucible in a glove box




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