College of Science and Engineering at the University of Minnesota
College of Science and Engineering
http://cse.umn.edu/

Day 7: MHD Facility and Latvia History

This morning, we are taking the train outside of the city to visit the Metal Hydrodynamic (MHD) Research Facility. This facility was built by the USSR to develop a nuclear powered spaceship to Mars. It is now used for liquid metal hydrodynamic research.
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They are developing liquid metal cooling techniques for nuclear power, fusion power, and other types of pump systems. The liquid metals they use are "Indium-Gallium-Tin" and "Sodium". The facility is designed with stainless steel floors and walls due to the explosion hazard of mixing pure sodium with water that could be tracked in on the floor.
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The facility used to use Mercury and nearby, one of the world's largest Mercury facilities still stands. Some of the older scientists seem to show signs of Mercury poisoning with lots of physical twitches and speech slurring. It has taken them over 40 years just to do the calculations and simulations fo the theory behind this research before they could even start to build the prototype devices.
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Some of the other research going on in this facility includes, optimal design conditions for burning biomass as a fuel, thermal dissipation properties of ferro-fluids, and measuring transport coefficients of nano-particles with a continuous laser.

The "Baltic Blues" have caught up to a few more people. We go back to the hotel for a break and lunch, and then we go back to the University to do our presentations about Latvian history and culture. While waiting for the return train, an incredibly drunk Russian guy tries to be friendly and get some free alcohol and cigarettes. He was very nice, but it was a little unnerving.
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