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The KASOLA (KArlsruhe SOdium LAboratory) at INR is a versatile experimental facility to investigate flow phenomena in liquid sodium for nuclear and non-nuclear applications. The facility fills a cylindrical steel building with an inner diameter of 7.7 m and a usable height of 12.5 m. It hosts a sodium inventory of 7 m³, and it can operate in the range of about 150–550 °C. A magneto-hydrodynamic (MHD) pump can deliver a flow rate up to 150 m³/h at a pressure head of 0.4 MPa. Due to the specific features of this type of pump, such as flow direction reversal, the investigation of numerous potentially occurring technical scenarios can be performed .

Three experimental ports are foreseen to serve all needs of liquid metal experimental investigations.

The versatile test section has a height of nearly 6 m. It is situated above the MHD pump and can be used for development and investigation of targets, component tests, and/or experiments, which require high mass flow rates. For higher mass flow rates, a second MHD pump can be installed in series with the first one. For the second test port, a pool section with dimensions of about 4x4x0.4 m³ is foreseen parallel to the versatile test port to hold a slab pool simulator, at a maximum power of 400 kW. It may be used for tests of nuclear and non-nuclear industrial components at a scale of about 1:5. Due to its geometry, it can be described by the Hele-Shaw approximation. A third port, namely a low temperature port, is foreseen as an auxiliary port to connect separate experimental loops or devices, which can use the calibration and cleaning units of KASOLA.

A key feature of the facility is its flexibility with respect to a wide spectrum of thermal-hydraulic experiments. Capabilities include non-nuclear and nuclear applications for prototypical configurations. As examples, the following list is given.

  • Validation and improvement of turbulent liquid metal heat transfer models in CFD tools on limited geometric scale
  • Development of free surface liquid metal targets for accelerator applications
  • Development of models to describe free surface liquid metal flow
  • Investigation of transition in convective flow patterns between forced, mixed and free convection modes.
  • Qualification of CFD and system codes to simulate adequately the transition from the channel flow to large plenum (collector tank)
  • Thermal-hydraulic investigations of flow patterns in fuel bundles or pool configurations at prototypical or scaled heights
  • In-Service Inspection & Repair (ISIR) monitors for liquid metal systems

Presently, it is intended to demonstrate the feasibility of sodium usage for thermal storage systems and direct energy conversion at high temperatures.

The KASOLA facility contributes to the Helmholtz alliance on liquid metal technology (LIMTECH) and the Helmholtz Energy Materials Characterization Platform (HEMCP). LIMTECH has been created to help German Helmholtz centres and universities to bundle their R&D activities on liquid metals for the various research fields and applications. HEMCP was founded to respond to the needs of innovative energy systems, which will face much higher temperatures to enhance their efficiency. It will also boost the developments and qualification of instrumentation and materials used for liquid metal technology.


[1]  W. Hering, R. Stieglitz, Th. Wetzel , E2C , Application of liquid metals for solar energy systems, European Energy Conference 2012, 17.–19.04.2012, Maastricht.
[2]  W. Hering et al.: Scientific program of the Karlsruhe Sodium Laboratory (KASOLA), IAEA-CN-199/257, Int. Conf. on Fast Reactors and Related Fuel Cycles, Paris, France, March 4.–7, 2013.
[3]  A. Onea et al.: Optimization of the KASOLA high temperature liquid metal loop, NURETH15-545, 15th Int. Top. Meeting on Nuclear Reactor Thermal-Hydraulics, NURETH-15, Pisa, Italy, May 12–15, 2013.