The Spallation Neutron Source (SNS) is an accelerator-based neutron source at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL).The nuclear spallation reaction occurs when a proton beam hits liquid mercury. This interaction causes thermal expansion of the liquid mercury which produces high pressure waves. When these pressure waves hit the target vessel wall, cavitation can occur and erode the wall. Research and development efforts at SNS include creation of a vertical protective gas layer between the flowing liquid mercury and target vessel wall to mitigate the cavitation damage erosion and extend the life time of the target. Since mercury is opaque, computational fluid dynamics (CFD) may be used as a diagnostic tool to visualize the behavior of the liquid mercury and guide the experimental efforts. In this study, CFD simulations of three dimensional, unsteady, turbulent, two-phase flow of helium gas injection in flowing liquid mercury over smooth, vertically grooved and horizontally grooved walls are carried out with the commercially available CFD code Fluent-12 from ANSYS. The Volume of Fluid (VOF) model is used to track the helium-mercury interface. V-shaped vertical and horizontal grooves with 0.5 mm pitch and about 0.7 mm depth were machined in the transparent wall of acrylic test sections. Flow visualization data of helium gas coverage through transparent test sections is obtained with a high-speed camera at the ORNL Target Test Facility (TTF). The helium gas mass flow rate is 8 mg/min and introduced through a 0.5 mm diameter port. The inlet mercury mass flow rate is 51 kg/s and the predicted local mercury velocity is 0.9 m/s. In this paper, the helium gas flow rate and the local mercury velocity are kept constant for the three cases. Time integration of predicted helium gas volume fraction over time is done to evaluate the gas coverage and calculate the average thickness of the helium gas layer. The predicted time-integrated gas coverage over vertically grooved and horizontally grooved test sections is better than over a smooth wall. The simulations show that the helium gas is trapped inside the grooves.

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