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Title: Lithium As Plasma Facing Component for Magnetic Fusion Research

Abstract

The use of lithium in magnetic fusion confinement experiments started in the 1990's in order to improve tokamak plasma performance as a low-recycling plasma-facing component (PFC). Lithium is the lightest alkali metal and it is highly chemically reactive with relevant ion species in fusion plasmas including hydrogen, deuterium, tritium, carbon, and oxygen. Because of the reactive properties, lithium can provide strong pumping for those ions. It was indeed a spectacular success in TFTR where a very small amount (~ 0.02 gram) of lithium coating of the PFCs resulted in the fusion power output to improve by nearly a factor of two. The plasma confinement also improved by a factor of two. This success was attributed to the reduced recycling of cold gas surrounding the fusion plasma due to highly reactive lithium on the wall. The plasma confinement and performance improvements have since been confirmed in a large number of fusion devices with various magnetic configurations including CDX-U/LTX (US), CPD (Japan), HT-7 (China), EAST (China), FTU (Italy), NSTX (US), T-10, T-11M (Russia), TJ-II (Spain), and RFX (Italy). Additionally, lithium was shown to broaden the plasma pressure profile in NSTX, which is advantageous in achieving high performance H-mode operation for tokamak reactors.more » It is also noted that even with significant applications (up to 1,000 grams in NSTX) of lithium on PFCs, very little contamination (< 0.1%) of lithium fraction in main fusion plasma core was observed even during high confinement modes. The lithium therefore appears to be a highly desirable material to be used as a plasma PFC material from the magnetic fusion plasma performance and operational point of view. An exciting development in recent years is the growing realization of lithium as a potential solution to solve the exceptionally challenging need to handle the fusion reactor divertor heat flux, which could reach 60 MW/m2 . By placing the liquid lithium (LL) surface in the path of the main divertor heat flux (divertor strike point), the lithium is evaporated from the surface. The evaporated lithium is quickly ionized by the plasma and the ionized lithium ions can provide a strongly radiative layer of plasma ("radiative mantle"), thus could significantly reduce the heat flux to the divertor strike point surfaces, thus protecting the divertor surface. The protective effects of LL have been observed in many experiments and test stands. As a possible reactor divertor candidate, a closed LL divertor system is described. Finally, it is noted that the lithium applications as a PFC can be quite flexible and broad. The lithium application should be quite compatible with various divertor configurations, and it can be also applied to protecting the presently envisioned tungsten based solid PFC surfaces such as the ones for ITER. Lithium based PFCs therefore have the exciting prospect of providing a cost effective flexible means to improve the fusion reactor performance, while providing a practical solution to the highly challenging divertor heat handling issue confronting the steadystate magnetic fusion reactors.« less

Authors:
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Princeton Plasma Physics Lab. (PPPL), Princeton, NJ (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Office of Science (SC)
OSTI Identifier:
1056493
Report Number(s):
PPPL-4808
DOE Contract Number:  
DE-ACO2-09CH11466
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
70 PLASMA PHYSICS AND FUSION TECHNOLOGY

Citation Formats

Ono, Masayuki. Lithium As Plasma Facing Component for Magnetic Fusion Research. United States: N. p., 2012. Web. doi:10.2172/1056493.
Ono, Masayuki. Lithium As Plasma Facing Component for Magnetic Fusion Research. United States. https://doi.org/10.2172/1056493
Ono, Masayuki. Mon . "Lithium As Plasma Facing Component for Magnetic Fusion Research". United States. https://doi.org/10.2172/1056493. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1056493.
@article{osti_1056493,
title = {Lithium As Plasma Facing Component for Magnetic Fusion Research},
author = {Ono, Masayuki},
abstractNote = {The use of lithium in magnetic fusion confinement experiments started in the 1990's in order to improve tokamak plasma performance as a low-recycling plasma-facing component (PFC). Lithium is the lightest alkali metal and it is highly chemically reactive with relevant ion species in fusion plasmas including hydrogen, deuterium, tritium, carbon, and oxygen. Because of the reactive properties, lithium can provide strong pumping for those ions. It was indeed a spectacular success in TFTR where a very small amount (~ 0.02 gram) of lithium coating of the PFCs resulted in the fusion power output to improve by nearly a factor of two. The plasma confinement also improved by a factor of two. This success was attributed to the reduced recycling of cold gas surrounding the fusion plasma due to highly reactive lithium on the wall. The plasma confinement and performance improvements have since been confirmed in a large number of fusion devices with various magnetic configurations including CDX-U/LTX (US), CPD (Japan), HT-7 (China), EAST (China), FTU (Italy), NSTX (US), T-10, T-11M (Russia), TJ-II (Spain), and RFX (Italy). Additionally, lithium was shown to broaden the plasma pressure profile in NSTX, which is advantageous in achieving high performance H-mode operation for tokamak reactors. It is also noted that even with significant applications (up to 1,000 grams in NSTX) of lithium on PFCs, very little contamination (< 0.1%) of lithium fraction in main fusion plasma core was observed even during high confinement modes. The lithium therefore appears to be a highly desirable material to be used as a plasma PFC material from the magnetic fusion plasma performance and operational point of view. An exciting development in recent years is the growing realization of lithium as a potential solution to solve the exceptionally challenging need to handle the fusion reactor divertor heat flux, which could reach 60 MW/m2 . By placing the liquid lithium (LL) surface in the path of the main divertor heat flux (divertor strike point), the lithium is evaporated from the surface. The evaporated lithium is quickly ionized by the plasma and the ionized lithium ions can provide a strongly radiative layer of plasma ("radiative mantle"), thus could significantly reduce the heat flux to the divertor strike point surfaces, thus protecting the divertor surface. The protective effects of LL have been observed in many experiments and test stands. As a possible reactor divertor candidate, a closed LL divertor system is described. Finally, it is noted that the lithium applications as a PFC can be quite flexible and broad. The lithium application should be quite compatible with various divertor configurations, and it can be also applied to protecting the presently envisioned tungsten based solid PFC surfaces such as the ones for ITER. Lithium based PFCs therefore have the exciting prospect of providing a cost effective flexible means to improve the fusion reactor performance, while providing a practical solution to the highly challenging divertor heat handling issue confronting the steadystate magnetic fusion reactors.},
doi = {10.2172/1056493},
url = {https://www.osti.gov/biblio/1056493}, journal = {},
number = ,
volume = ,
place = {United States},
year = {2012},
month = {9}
}