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Heat Convection Inside an Autoclave

04/10/2015 7:48 AM

I am currently seeking technology to help heat a 14 ton DUF6 cylinder evenly inside an electrically heated autoclave. My problem is the uranium inside this 14 ton cylinder acts as a huge heat sink so my 70K watt heaters are driving so hard the internal temperature limit is reached before the DUF6 is ready to process. My plan is to create convection around the cylinder with a fan or some other means of circulating the heat around the cylinder to heat it evenly, has anyone worked with any technology used for creating this type of convection in an environment that is around 140°C? I can't find anything that will hold up in the environment. Thanks for reading.

Best Regards

Rich F.

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#1

Re: Heat Convection Inside an Autoclave

04/10/2015 8:09 AM

Stainless steel or cast iron turbines, but it looks like your problem is the hysteresis of that huge cylinder, your temp controller might need to be setup accordingly but your cycle time will increase considerably, I don't see a workaround.

Uranium right ?, not plutonium...

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#3
In reply to #1

Re: Heat Convection Inside an Autoclave

04/10/2015 8:44 AM

The autoclaves are in operation and I don't want to add a port to them for the air movement due to recertification of the pressure vessel, otherwise the turbine or any fan would work. I have tried relocating all the thermocouples and added a cascade loop for better dynamic control of the heat. Heating the 14 ton DUF6 cylinder quick enough to generate the process pressure to feed the reactor is the most difficult thing I have ever experienced in my career. Thanks for the reply.

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#11
In reply to #3

Re: Heat Convection Inside an Autoclave

04/10/2015 11:36 AM

Have you considered band heaters? Then you take convection out of the equation and replace it with conduction. But you would probably need safeguards against overheating. From your response to my earlier post, it sounds like equilibrium was assumed and heat transfer was not considered. Since heat transfer is a time-rate process, time is an important element. And when you are heating a static mass (also encountered in food and other processes) other factors are brought in. Sound like you may need to bring in an expert in heat transfer.

An after thought, would it be possible to use multiple, smaller containers? This would increase the surface/volume ratio.

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#23
In reply to #3

Re: Heat Convection Inside an Autoclave

04/13/2015 11:46 AM

BWCS (Babcock & Wilcox Conversion Service) seems to not have any particular issue getting depleted UF6 conversion to work, why don't you ask them? Are you using induction or radiant heat? Direct heat conduction? Are you sure?

You say you want more conduction. Could you use heat baffle to create a thermal siphon within the autoclave? Could you somehow use magnetic coupling to drive a fan? IMHO - you really need to hire a firm that can engineer this correctly from the get go. You need to define what it is you need to accomplish to them (not on this forum).

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#25
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Re: Heat Convection Inside an Autoclave

04/13/2015 12:30 PM

James I am the Vaporization Engineer here at the nuclear site I work for B&W. Thanks for the response.

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#30
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Re: Heat Convection Inside an Autoclave

04/14/2015 4:07 PM

If you could raise the autoclave temperature (still within operating certificate), and reach liquidus pressure, then I presume a lot of the issue with differential heating of the cylinder might be resolved, but you still need to provide for better convection, by using non-moving baffles within the autoclave. Otherwise - I hope you can find a fan that can operate within the autoclave with only an electrical feedthru, and magnetic bearings.

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#2

Re: Heat Convection Inside an Autoclave

04/10/2015 8:20 AM

Sure, put the motor on the outside of the autoclave and run the fan shaft through the wall of the autoclave with a suitable seal. At high temperatures some shielding is used, but at 140 may not be required.

But depending on the form of the contents, a convection fan may not help much. For example, if the contents is pellets submerged in air the heat transfer rate will probably be controlled by the contents and not by the outside of the container. How was 70 kilowatts selected?

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#6
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Re: Heat Convection Inside an Autoclave

04/10/2015 9:01 AM

The heating capacity was calculated based on the ideal gas law and the properties of DUF6

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#7
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Re: Heat Convection Inside an Autoclave

04/10/2015 9:05 AM

Obviously your calculations are wrong.

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#16
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Re: Heat Convection Inside an Autoclave

04/10/2015 9:41 PM

I am not sure I understand what you are doing. DUF6 is a solid at room temperature and at atmospheric pressure sublimes to a gas as it is heated. If it is stored in a pressurized steel container, when you heat it, it would also increase the pressure. The phase diagram shows that it can be a liquid (like CO2) under pressure.

As it crosses the phase boundary, additional heat is required (heat of fusion) in addition to the specific heat needed to increase the temperature.

Ref: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uranium_hexafluoride

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#24
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Re: Heat Convection Inside an Autoclave

04/13/2015 11:50 AM

Are you sure of the phase diagram of UF6? Are you sure you are not having to vaporize it first?

http://web.evs.anl.gov/uranium/guide/uf6/propertiesuf6/index.cfm

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#26
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Re: Heat Convection Inside an Autoclave

04/13/2015 3:20 PM

As long as you stay under the triple point, then you are subliming the DUF6. That will be the absolute upper pressure you would want. I think there is a slight problem getting the heat to equilibrate through out the material in the cylinder since this is a temporal issue more than a control temperature issue.

Heat baffles might be the simplest means of controlling the heat to the area near the cylinder such that baffles placed near the cylinder should induce a downdraft in the furnace to "bathe" the cylinder top-down in hot gas. That still will not really speed things up all that much IMHO, because the mass of DUF6 is large and of a thick diameter within the cylinder. If different parts of the material are at different temperatures, the hotter sublimes the faster, and probably separates from the walls of the cylinder. UF6 is not something I would pick for a heat transfer gas in general (due to the mass of the molecule). You are probably wanting this material to do something it cannot.

The other option is to control the heating up past the triple point into the liquidus, and hold pressure and temperature such as draw-off will be based upon the "boil-off rate", whatever that is. A liquid will at least stay in contact with the portion of the cylinder where it rests. Can your system take the pressure? Your call.

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#4

Re: Heat Convection Inside an Autoclave

04/10/2015 8:52 AM

Just put a slightly subcritical mass of U-235 inside the cylinder....

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#5

Re: Heat Convection Inside an Autoclave

04/10/2015 8:58 AM

My convection oven that I cook my food at home cannot be set any lower than 300 °F (150 °C) in any of the convection settings. A depeleted uranium hexaflouride should only be handled by qualified and authorized people. You should not be touching this cylinder.

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#8
In reply to #5

Re: Heat Convection Inside an Autoclave

04/10/2015 9:07 AM

redfred I work at a nuclear facility and we are well versed in safe handling practices of UF6 cylinders. We are just attempting to speed up the heating process for a higher throughput.

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#9
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Re: Heat Convection Inside an Autoclave

04/10/2015 9:26 AM

Ok, now you're being clear. Got a question for you: Do you know if Eddy currents can be induced into the UF6 cylinder? If so, then go for an induction heater, and forget about the hysteresis inherent to a heat convection system.

Have to do it without modifying and having to recertify your equipment ? then do magic.

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#10

Re: Heat Convection Inside an Autoclave

04/10/2015 10:13 AM

Part of your problem may be the heat of fusion of the DUF6...

"The triple point temperature of UF6 was found to be 337.212°K (64.052°C) and the heat of fusion was found to be 19,193 j mole−1."

ref: http://scitation.aip.org/content/aip/journal/jcp/16/5/10.1063/1.1746914

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#13
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Re: Heat Convection Inside an Autoclave

04/10/2015 12:40 PM

This sounds like a possibility if the pressure is high enough. I wonder how much of a pressure change occurred?

Clearly the calculations performed overlooked something. This might be the container wall mass, heater leads being heated or the enthalpy of a liquid impurity (water?) in this container. Heat could just be getting lost to the outside atmosphere if this takes enough time. There could even simply be an error in metrology

All that we know is that a predictive calculation was performed to size the heaters. The predictive calculation disagrees with the measured result. This happens all the time and IMHO is when the real fun starts. I would first verify the original calculations come up with the same result. More than once I have inserted the wrong value into a formula or realized that I made a bad assumption when I retrace my steps. Next I would back calculate from the actual results how much heat was getting actually applied to this gas. Then I would compare the differences and try to judge where this energy may have gone.

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#12

Re: Heat Convection Inside an Autoclave

04/10/2015 11:41 AM

I am most likely unclear on this, but would some form of stirling cycle device be practical?

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#14

Re: Heat Convection Inside an Autoclave

04/10/2015 12:54 PM

The original calculations were fine the heating process works as designed we are just trying to improve the cycle time without major redesign diminishing returns is not an option LOL. Thermal imaging shows a much higher temperature in the vapor space above the cylinder just thought there may be someone out there who might know of some way to move the air around in the autoclave.

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#22
In reply to #14

Re: Heat Convection Inside an Autoclave

04/13/2015 8:36 AM

The good folks at Getinge use fans in their steam autoclaves, perhaps they could help?

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#27
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Re: Heat Convection Inside an Autoclave

04/13/2015 8:47 PM

That is why I mentioned a stirling cycle heat engine earlier, driving a fan. It would work if there was enough differential. Also, remember the principals of sodium cooled exhaust valves. I offer these ideas in keeping with your requirements for minimal invasion of the chamber.

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#28
In reply to #14

Re: Heat Convection Inside an Autoclave

04/14/2015 1:50 PM

But you have tried everything that has no moving parts? Such as heat baffles that will force convection within the autoclave?

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#29
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Re: Heat Convection Inside an Autoclave

04/14/2015 3:20 PM

The system can be seen -if I am not wrong- as 2 cylinders one in the other. I think that in actual situation two air flow loops (as 2 kidneys) are build one on each side of the central cylinder with a free convection circulation: near to outer wall hot air goes up and along internal wall cooler air goes down. If the distance between cylinders is too small those loops cannot develop completely and heat is partly transferred by conduction. In both cases upper space will be hotter than lower space thus limiting the surface transfer capacity. In any case this flow will NOT heat the lower part of the inner cylinder, heat transfer will be limited to only an upper part of it even if the 2 loops are fully developed.

I presume the computations were based on an uniform air temperature which is wrong and demonstrated by made measurements.

The solution is a better hot air flow and if possible going from free convection to forced convection by a circular movement imposed by a fan (or better several if the cylinder is long). Baffles could also be used to lead the flow in a circular AND axial path.

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#35
In reply to #29

Re: Heat Convection Inside an Autoclave

04/15/2015 4:35 AM

I want to add a remark. The inner cylinder wall conductivity will transfer part of heat from top to bottom but how much it is depends on several factors as the ratio wall thickness/cylinder diameter, the material conductivity and the heat transfer from wall to UF6. The problem is much more complex than it seams to be if detailed.

As for other suggestions may I make following comments:

- baffles are ONLY effective if a flow can be generated and guided by baffles they are ineffective if transfer is only by free convection because flows go also against the free convection trend.

- it is not compulsory to use motors designed for high or very high temperature. It seems to me that this autoclave is dedicated so that it can accept a modification. I would suggest to place the "propellers" inside and use a long, air cooled , shaft to connect them with external motors. The only constrain will be to design the shaft with a stiffness high enough in order to avoid resonance and allow to place bearings outside where the temperature will assure the necessary life expectancy.

I would appreciate an information from the OP as inner cylinder diameter autoclave internal diameter and length so that I can confirm or infirm my hypothesis of the "kidney flows".

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#31
In reply to #14

Re: Heat Convection Inside an Autoclave

04/14/2015 4:11 PM

Heat baffles for the third and last time.

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#32
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Re: Heat Convection Inside an Autoclave

04/14/2015 4:42 PM

What?

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#15

Re: Heat Convection Inside an Autoclave

04/10/2015 6:19 PM

Moving air isn't your problem, getting enough heat into the mass is. You're trying to heat a 14 ton mass that's roughly 13 ft long by 5 feet in diameter with a 70kW heater.

That's only 239,000 BTU/hr for a 28,000 lb mass, or less than 8.5 Btu/hr/pound. If it were water it would take around 20 hours to raise it 160ºF, and that does not account for heating the autoclave atmosphere and metal (which I would guess weighs much more than the spent fuel), any heat of fusion, plus all the losses through the autoclave walls.

Air is a poor heat transfer medium, how about placing your heaters in tight contact with the cylinder or using an intermediate heat transfer media, but i somehow doubt that you want the problem of disposing of all that contaminated fluid.

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#17

Re: Heat Convection Inside an Autoclave

04/10/2015 9:43 PM

You have bumped smack into the laws of thermodynamics and are faced with the inevitable fact that you may be at the the thermal limits of your autoclave and the load you can heat with it.

Mother Nature is a Bitch and you can't fool, or fool with, her.

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#18

Re: Heat Convection Inside an Autoclave

04/10/2015 10:36 PM

Ricfre,

I'm glad you're working with this and not myself. DUF6 is some incredibly nasty stuff. Biggs had a good suggestion of putting band heaters on the tank and doing the heating by direct contact. If the band heaters are placed on the lower portion of the tank and were connected in layers from the bottom upwards on the sides, then your heat is focused on the solid/liquid portion and will be more effective (and the heaters can be turned off in layers/zones as the rising surface temperature in each zone shows that that level is now occupied by vapor.

If band heaters are not possible, then another possibility is infrared (radiant) heat. This may work if the outside of the tank is not polished or shiny. I'm not sure what the tank walls are made of, or coated with--Nickel?? If it is, then IR won't be of much help.

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#19

Re: Heat Convection Inside an Autoclave

04/10/2015 11:43 PM

Consider direct resistive heating of the cylinder. You are a nuclear industry professional, so subject of course to all regulations concerning any modification to the cylinder, it's possible to bond a ring electrode (perhaps brass) to the skirted end of a DUF6 cylinder. Then it may be possible to bond a small disc electrode to the dome end of the cylinder. Passing a high current through the cylinder body, via the two new electrodes, will directly heat the cylinder.

We are doing this on stainless steel cylinders (not DUF6) with bronze ring electrodes. Obviously, temperature monitoring is mission-critical and we have dual thermocouple wells, the couples being electrically insulated from the "live" cylinder.

We apply currents in the realm of thousands of amps with less than one volt potential difference. The low voltage makes safe, insulated cylinder support relatively easy. We manufacture our own toroidal one-volt transformers that use single-phase AC supply.

With the autoclave running quietly, more as an "insulating" environment than as a heat source, you can modulate the mains supply to the toroidal transformers to regulate the actual cylinder temperature. Consider by FEA the dissipation per unit area in the dome and in the skirt-end disc, which will differ from the dissipation per unit area in the cylindrical zone.

The beneficial principle of direct resistive heating is:

You need not be concerned about convection of air to transfer heat from autoclave heaters to the cylinder. You need not be concerned about intimate thermal contact between band heaters and the cylinder. You need not be concerned about the emissivity of an infra-red source and the absorbtivity of the cylinder surface.
Instead, you will be heating the damned cylinder. No other heat source gets that close to the cylinder contents.
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#20
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Re: Heat Convection Inside an Autoclave

04/11/2015 12:30 AM

Sounds promising. I also wonder about induction heating possibilities, but I don't know if the configuration would lend itself to that.

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#21

Re: Heat Convection Inside an Autoclave

04/12/2015 9:25 AM

Your problem depends on 3 heat transfer zones:

-from heater to cylinder wall by radiation and convection

- cylinder wall it self by conduction

- from cylinder wall (inside) to the DUF6 by conduction and/or convection depending on the UF6 structure (conduction if it is solid, convection if it is a fluid)

One thermal resistance cannot be modified : the cylinder wall itself

The outside transfer can be improved but only in a limited way since radiation will depend on the cylinder absorption properties and will decrease as its temperature goes up (you should consider that in the radiation transfer temperature is at the 4th power).

You could increase it only by increasing the temperature at the heating element surface.

You could increase convection, as you intend, by a higher hot air velocity in the space between heater and cylinder. If it this is as efficient as you expect it depends on the geometry of this space which I do not know to appreciate and of course of the heaters position.

This brings us to the internal heat transfer. If you look at the graph Rixter brought you see that at a higher pressure the solid will become fluid at a rather low temperature so that the heat transfer will increase since a liquid will better take and move (convect) the heat from a hot wall. This is not valid for gases it can be seen in the big difference between convection coefficients for gases and liquids.

Your interest would be to start at as low a temperature as possible to heat a fluid UF6 in order to reduce the cycle time.

It is qualitative estimation and it would be good to try to quantify it. If you want to continue the discussion you may use the private channel.

To go further in this analysis you should have heaters at the lower part of the cylinder to increase as much as possible the internal convection which is a "free convection" thus amplified if the heat source is a the bottom.

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#33

Re: Heat Convection Inside an Autoclave

04/14/2015 5:46 PM

Back to your original inquiry. This links to an article on high temperature motors used for submersible down-hole motors. You could contact the author, Tom, and see if he knows of any motor that might withstand your conditions.

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#34

Re: Heat Convection Inside an Autoclave

04/14/2015 11:44 PM

Would magnetic coupling of a rotor inside the autoclave by a stator outside be possible?

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