Period of Performance: 06/08/2015 - 03/07/2016


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

850 S 4th Avenue Array
Pocatello, ID 83201
Firm POC, Principal Investigator


Liquid metal-cooled fission reactors are both moderated and cooled by a liquid metal solution. These reactors are typically very compact and they can be used in regular electric power production, for naval and space propulsion systems or in fission surface power systems for planetary exploration. Liquid metals in fusion reactors can be used in heat exchange, tritium breeder systems and in first wall protection, using a flowing liquid metal surface as a plasma facing component. High power accelerator-driven subcritical ADS) systems will need to employ liquid metal targets and beam dumps for spallation and for heat removal where the severe constraints arising from a megawatt beam deposited on targets and absorbers will require complex procedures to dilute the beam, and liquid metals constitute an excellent working fluid due to its intrinsic characteristics. Liquid alloy systems have a high degree of thermal conductivity far superior to ordinary non- metallic liquids and inherent high densities and electrical conductivities. This results in the use of these materials for specific heat conducting and dissipation applications. Typical applications for liquid metals include heat transfer systems, and thermal cooling and heating designs. Uniquely, they can be used to conduct heat and electricity between non-metallic and metallic surfaces. The motion of liquid metals in strong magnetic fields generally induces electric currents, which, while interacting with the magnetic field, produce electromagnetic forces. Thermo-magnetic systems exploit the fact that liquid metals are conducting fluids capable of carrying currents source of electromagnetic fields useful for pumping, heat dissipation and diagnostics. Studies on engineering magnetohydrodynamics of liquid metals will be performed aiming to the development of computational tools and software for the design, modeling, simulation, optimization and fabrication of liquid metal annular linear induction pumps for nuclear applications. But the coupling between the electromagnetics and thermo-fluid mechanical phenomena observed in liquid metal thermo-magnetic systems gives rise to complex engineering and numerical problems observed in different type of applications in the nuclear, space and industrial field. Therefore, future applications of this research can lead to the development of tools for the design and analysis of liquid metal and plasma-based technology with applicability on: thermal control systems, advanced nuclear propulsion and power systems, generation IV reactors, targetry and machine protection mechanisms on high energy particle accelerators, and biomedical engineering problems such as artificial MHD heart studies and new contrasting agents. By developing methods to control the surface tension of liquid metals, applications can be developed in configurable electronics, microfluidic channels and MEMS.