Experimental study of cavitation in liquid Lead-Bismuth Eutectic (LBE)

SCK•CEN Mentor

Iarmonov Mikhail, miarmono@sckcen.be, +32 (0)14 33 80 14

Expert group

LBE Components and Experiments

SCK•CEN Co-mentor

Gavrilov Serguei , sgavrilo@sckcen.be , +32 (0)14 33 30 67


MYRRHA is a flexible fast-spectrum research reactor under design at SCK CEN, the Belgian Nuclear Research Centre. The primary coolant is Lead Bismuth Eutectic (LBE). Cavitation is an important phenomenon in pump hydrodynamics that can significantly accelerate erosion of pump parts and lead to their rapid destruction. Therefore, research on cavitation erosion in liquid LBE is very important to confirm the safety of MYRRHA.

Currently, there is a gap in knowledge of the characteristics of cavitation in liquid LBE and of the conditions and factors affecting its appearance such as:

- Temperature of LBE;

- Static pressure;

- Impurity content;

- Surface condition of a test sample.

This thesis aims to bridge the gap and to design and realize an experimental facility and program to provide experimental data that will characterize the cavitation depending on various factors. These data can be used as input in the design of the MYRRHA pumps.


This research will contribute to better understanding the cavitation parameters to estimate the required Net Positive Suction Head (NPSH) for pumps operating in liquid LBE and at evaluating the possible impact of cavitation on pump parts.

The proposed methodology consists of a computational-theoretical study complemented by the experimental research. The experimental facility needs to be developed by the student and will consist of a metal sample vibrating at high frequency in liquid LBE. The low pressure area formed under the test sample surface leads to the appearance of cavitation bubbles. Changes in the oscillation frequency of the test sample and the pressure in the gas plenum of the test pot affect the cavitation. The occurrence of cavitation is determined by post-test analysis of erosive wear of the sample surface and by online recording of the characteristic noise determined by an acoustic sensor. The influence of impurities contained in LBE and preconditioning of the sample surface is also investigated.

The minimum diploma level of the candidate needs to be

Academic bachelor , Master of sciences , Master of sciences in engineering

The candidate needs to have a background in

Chemistry , Electromechanics , Physics

Estimated duration

6 months