Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s (ORNL) Spallation Neutron Source (SNS) uses a mercury target to generate neutrons. When the powerful 1.4 MW, 60Hz proton beam hits the target, a strong pressure wave propagates in the mercury and into the vessel wall due to the rapid temperature rise in mercury. These pressure waves induce cavitation damage on the target container and high stresses, which both limit the lifetime of the target. Since October 2017, helium gas has been injected into the mercury flow in order to mitigate the negative effects of pulse-induced pressure waves. The preliminary strain measurements suggest that gas injection is indeed efficient at mitigating the pressure wave. Tiny nozzles (8-micron diameter) at choked condition are used to generate small bubbles. The bubblers can theoretically inject a total mass flow rate of 0.75 SLPM. However, during operation the bubblers were capable of injecting only approximately 0.45 SLPM, which suggests that some of the nozzles may have become clogged. Since there is a strong desire to inject a larger quantity of gas in the target to, hopefully, mitigate even more the pressure wave, SNS has been looking at implementing swirl bubblers in the target, similar to the ones used in the Japan Proton Accelerator Research Complex (J-PARC) mercury target. In this paper, results with prototypical bubblers tested in water and mercury are presented. Bubblers were installed in prototypical targets and bubble size distributions were measured in both water and mercury. It was found that swirl bubblers can generate a large number of small bubbles, but some compromises were made to keep the pressure losses across them reasonable.

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