• C K Mathews

      Articles written in Bulletin of Materials Science

    • Liquid sodium—The heat transport medium in fast breeder reactors

      C K Mathews

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      Liquid sodium is used as a coolant in fast breeder reactors on account of its excellent heat transfer properties. It must, however, be in the pure form to be compatible with structural materials. Techniques for its purification to nuclear grade and its characterization had to be developed in our laboratory before we could embark on an R&D programme.

      It is essential to monitor hydrogen at ppb levels in the sodium circuits of the fast reactor in order to detect water leaks in the steam generator in a timely manner. Similarly it is useful to make on-line measurements of oxygen and carbon at trace levels. Electrochemical sensors have been developed in our laboratory for this purpose. These compact sensors work on the principle of concentration cells and are far superior to devices used elsewhere for this purpose.

      Corrosion of structural materials in the sodium environment depends on the oxygen content of sodium. In order to understand the mechanism of this corrosion, one must have a good grasp of the thermochemistry of the ternary systems, Na-M-O, where M stands for the alloying constitutents of stainless steels. The phase diagrams of most of these systems were established in our laboratory. A specially designed sodium loop is used in the study of corrosion, activity transport and kinetics of sodium-water reaction.

    • Equation of state of refractory materials at very high temperatures—theoretical and experimental studies

      M Joseph N Sivakumar C K Mathews

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      This paper describes some of the theoretical and experimental studies being carried out at IGCAR on the equation of state of refractory materials like reactor fuels at high temperatures (>3000 K). The equation of state is primarily calculated by the principle of corresponding states. The influence of these equations of state on energy release in a hypothetical core disruptive accident in a fast breeder reactor is indicated. Details of an experimental facility based on laser induced vapourization mass spectrometry, which is being developed to measure the vapour pressures of materials at high temperatures is presented. Possible applications of this facility in other fields of materials research are indicated.

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