Pressure waves created in liquid mercury pulsed spallation targets like the Spallation Neutron Source (SNS) at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, induce cavitation damage on the target container. The cavitation damage is thought to limit the lifetime of the target for power levels at and above 1 MW. One way to mitigate the damage would be to absorb the pressure pulse energy into a dispersed population of small bubbles, however, creating a bubble size distribution that is sufficiently large and disperse in mercury is challenging due to the high surface tension. Also, measuring the population is complicated by the opacity and the high level of turbulent mixing.

Recent advances in bubble diagnostics by batch sampling the mercury made it possible to compare bubble populations for different techniques in a SNS-1/20th scale test loop. More than 10 bubblers were tested and the most productive bubblers were taken for in-beam testing at the Los Alamos Neutron Science Center (LANSCE) WNR user facility. One bubbler design, referred to as the inlet-orifice bubbler, that showed moderate success in creating populations also has an added advantage that it could easily be included in the existing SNS full-scale mercury target configuration. Improvements to the bubbler were planned including a reduction of the nozzle size to choke the gas injection, thus steadying the injected mass flow and allowing multiple nozzles to work off of a common plenum. For the first time, reliable bubble population data are available in the prototypical target geometry and can be compared with populations that mitigated cavitation damage. This paper presents those experimental results.

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