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University of Nevada, Las Vegas

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Las Vegas (Nev.)

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Lead-bismuth eutectic (LBE) is a candidate as a spallation target in sub-critical transmutation systems and as a coolant in nuclear programs. One of the primary concerns with LBE systems is the corrosion of stainless steel, the primary structural material used in nuclear systems. To mitigate this problem, trace levels of oxygen can be introduced into the system, causing the formation of a protective oxide layer at the interface between the LBE and steel. To protect the steel components, this oxide layer must be properly maintained. However, too much oxygen will produce unwanted oxide precipitation within the coolant and elsewhere in the system. With the current generation LBE systems, the stability of the oxide layer on the internal components is maintained through controlling the temperature of the system and the dissolved oxygen concentration in the coolant. Controlling these two operating parameters is the key to operating LBE systems and minimizing corrosion. While the temperature of the system is easy to measure, the concentration of dissolved oxygen in the LBE is more complicated.

Yttria-stabilized zirconia (YSZ) solid-electrolyte oxygen sensing systems are currently employed by Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) scientists to measure oxygen levels in the Delta Loop, an engineering-scale LBE experimental system. By measuring the voltage difference across the YSZ sensor, the oxygen concentration in test solutions can be determined relative to that in the reference solutions (the potentiometric method). The theoretical model for calculating oxygen concentration based on voltage measurements from YSZ sensors in static conditions is well understood. The real world performance of these systems, however, is less predictable.

The primary goal of this research project is to examine the major factors impacting the performance of YSZ oxygen sensing systems. The research effort will serve to fill the gaps in the current sensor calibration/validation work and further the development of new sensors for oxygen concentration measurement in a nuclear environment. Ultimately, acquired data will lead to the full implementation of the instrumentation in the system. Through this work, the research group will also generate the calibration curves for the YSZ sensors over various temperature ranges.


Corrosion and anti-corrosives; Eutectic alloys; Lead-bismuth alloys; Nuclear reactors — Materials — Testing; Measuring instruments – Design and construction; Oxygen – Measurement

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Eutectic alloys; Nuclear reactors--Materials--Testing; Measuring instruments--Design and construction


Mechanical Engineering | Nuclear Engineering | Oil, Gas, and Energy

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118 KB




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