Experimental data for sodium boiling on horizontal surfaces containing artificial cavities at heat fluxes of 20,000 to 300,000 Btu/ft2 hr and pressures between 40 to 106 mm Hg were obtained. Observations are made for stable boiling, unstable boiling and “bumping.” Some recorded temperature variations in the solid close to the nucleating cavity are presented. It is suggested that for liquid metals the time for bubble growth and departure is a very small fraction of the total bubble cycle, hence the delay time during which a thermal layer grows is the most significant part of the process. On this basis the transient conduction heat transfer is solved for a periodic process, and the period time is found to be a function of the degree of superheat, the heat flux and the liquid thermal properties. A simplified model for stability of nucleate pool boiling of liquid metals is postulated from which the minimum heat flux for stable boiling can be found as a function of liquid-solid properties, liquid pressure, the degree of superheat, and the cavity radius and depth. At relatively low heat fluxes, convection currents have significant effects on the period time of bubble formation. An empirical correlation is proposed, which takes into account the convection effects, to match the experimental results.

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