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Title: Liquid lithium applications for solving challenging fusion reactor issues and NSTX-U contributions

Abstract

Steady-state fusion reactor operation presents major divertor technology challenges, including high divertor heat flux both steady-state and transients. In addition to those issues, there are unresolved issues of long term dust accumulation and associated tritium inventory and safety issues. It has been suggested that radiative liquid lithium divertor concepts with a modest lithium-loop could provide a possible solution for these outstanding fusion reactor technology issues while potentially improving the reactor plasma performance. The application of lithium (Li) in NSTX resulted in improved H-mode confinement, H-mode power threshold reduction, and reduction in the divertor peak heat flux while maintaining essentially Li-free core plasma operation even during H-modes. These promising results in NSTX and related modeling calculations motivated the radiative liquid lithium divertor (RLLD) concept and its variant, the active liquid lithium divertor concept (ARLLD), taking advantage of the enhanced Li radiation in relatively poorly confined divertor plasmas. It was estimated that only a few moles/sec of lithium injection would be needed to significantly reduce the divertor heat flux in a tokamak fusion power plant. By operating at lower temperatures ≤ 500°C than the first wall ~ 600 – 700°C, the LL-covered divertor chamber wall surfaces can serve as an effective particlemore » pump, as impurities generally migrate toward lower temperature LL divertor surfaces. To maintain the LL purity, a closed LL loop system with a modest circulating capacity of ~ 1 liter/second (l/sec) is envisioned to sustain the steady-state operation of a 1 GW-electric class fusion power plant. By running the Li loop continuously, it can carry the dust particles and impurities generated in the vacuum vessel to outside where the dust / impurities are removed by relatively simple filter and cold/hot trap systems. Using a cold trap system, it can recover in tritium (T) in real time from LL at a rate of ~ 0.5 g / sec needed to sustain the fusion reaction while minimizing the T inventory issue. With an expected T fraction of ≤ 0.7 %, an acceptable level of T inventory can be achieved. In NSTX-U, preparations are now underway to elucidate the physics of Li plasma interactions with a number of Li application tools and Li radiation spectroscopic instruments. The NSTX-U Li evaporator which provides Li coating over the lower divertor plate, can offer important information on the RLLD concept, and the Li granule injector will test some of the key physics issue on the ARLLD concept. A LL-loop is also being prepared off line for prototyping future use on NSTX-U.« less

Authors:
 [1];  [1];  [2];  [2];  [3]
  1. Princeton Plasma Physics Lab. (PPPL), Princeton, NJ (United States)
  2. National Inst. for Fusion Scinece (Japan)
  3. Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Princeton Plasma Physics Lab. (PPPL), Princeton, NJ (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE
OSTI Identifier:
1358038
Alternate Identifier(s):
OSTI ID: 1416202
Report Number(s):
PPPL-5214
Journal ID: ISSN 0920-3796; PII: S0920379616304604
Grant/Contract Number:
AC02-09CH11466
Resource Type:
Journal Article: Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Fusion Engineering and Design
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 117; Journal Issue: C; Journal ID: ISSN 0920-3796
Publisher:
Elsevier
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
70 PLASMA PHYSICS AND FUSION TECHNOLOGY

Citation Formats

Ono, M., Jaworski, M. A., Kaita, R., Hirooka, Y., and Gray, T. K.. Liquid lithium applications for solving challenging fusion reactor issues and NSTX-U contributions. United States: N. p., 2016. Web. doi:10.1016/j.fusengdes.2016.06.060.
Ono, M., Jaworski, M. A., Kaita, R., Hirooka, Y., & Gray, T. K.. Liquid lithium applications for solving challenging fusion reactor issues and NSTX-U contributions. United States. doi:10.1016/j.fusengdes.2016.06.060.
Ono, M., Jaworski, M. A., Kaita, R., Hirooka, Y., and Gray, T. K.. Fri . "Liquid lithium applications for solving challenging fusion reactor issues and NSTX-U contributions". United States. doi:10.1016/j.fusengdes.2016.06.060. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1358038.
@article{osti_1358038,
title = {Liquid lithium applications for solving challenging fusion reactor issues and NSTX-U contributions},
author = {Ono, M. and Jaworski, M. A. and Kaita, R. and Hirooka, Y. and Gray, T. K.},
abstractNote = {Steady-state fusion reactor operation presents major divertor technology challenges, including high divertor heat flux both steady-state and transients. In addition to those issues, there are unresolved issues of long term dust accumulation and associated tritium inventory and safety issues. It has been suggested that radiative liquid lithium divertor concepts with a modest lithium-loop could provide a possible solution for these outstanding fusion reactor technology issues while potentially improving the reactor plasma performance. The application of lithium (Li) in NSTX resulted in improved H-mode confinement, H-mode power threshold reduction, and reduction in the divertor peak heat flux while maintaining essentially Li-free core plasma operation even during H-modes. These promising results in NSTX and related modeling calculations motivated the radiative liquid lithium divertor (RLLD) concept and its variant, the active liquid lithium divertor concept (ARLLD), taking advantage of the enhanced Li radiation in relatively poorly confined divertor plasmas. It was estimated that only a few moles/sec of lithium injection would be needed to significantly reduce the divertor heat flux in a tokamak fusion power plant. By operating at lower temperatures ≤ 500°C than the first wall ~ 600 – 700°C, the LL-covered divertor chamber wall surfaces can serve as an effective particle pump, as impurities generally migrate toward lower temperature LL divertor surfaces. To maintain the LL purity, a closed LL loop system with a modest circulating capacity of ~ 1 liter/second (l/sec) is envisioned to sustain the steady-state operation of a 1 GW-electric class fusion power plant. By running the Li loop continuously, it can carry the dust particles and impurities generated in the vacuum vessel to outside where the dust / impurities are removed by relatively simple filter and cold/hot trap systems. Using a cold trap system, it can recover in tritium (T) in real time from LL at a rate of ~ 0.5 g / sec needed to sustain the fusion reaction while minimizing the T inventory issue. With an expected T fraction of ≤ 0.7 %, an acceptable level of T inventory can be achieved. In NSTX-U, preparations are now underway to elucidate the physics of Li plasma interactions with a number of Li application tools and Li radiation spectroscopic instruments. The NSTX-U Li evaporator which provides Li coating over the lower divertor plate, can offer important information on the RLLD concept, and the Li granule injector will test some of the key physics issue on the ARLLD concept. A LL-loop is also being prepared off line for prototyping future use on NSTX-U.},
doi = {10.1016/j.fusengdes.2016.06.060},
journal = {Fusion Engineering and Design},
number = C,
volume = 117,
place = {United States},
year = {Fri Aug 05 00:00:00 EDT 2016},
month = {Fri Aug 05 00:00:00 EDT 2016}
}

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Free Publicly Available Full Text
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  • Here, steady-state fusion power plant designs present major divertor technology challenges, including high divertor heat flux both in steady-state and during transients. In addition to these concerns, there are the unresolved technology issues of long term dust accumulation and associated tritium inventory and safety issues. It has been suggested that radiation-based liquid lithium (LL) divertor concepts with a modest lithium-loop could provide a possible solution for these outstanding fusion reactor technology issues, while potentially improving reactor plasma performance. The application of lithium (Li) in NSTX resulted in improved H-mode confinement, H-mode power threshold reduction, and reduction in the divertor peakmore » heat flux while maintaining essentially Li-free core plasma operation even during H-modes. These promising results in NSTX and related modeling calculations motivated the radiative liquid lithium divertor (RLLD) concept and its variant, the active liquid lithium divertor concept (ARLLD), taking advantage of the enhanced or non-coronal Li radiation in relatively poorly confined divertor plasmas. To maintain the LL purity in a 1 GW-electric class fusion power plant, a closed LL loop system with a modest circulating capacity of ~ 1 liter/second (l/sec) is envisioned. We examined two key technology issues: 1) dust or solid particle removal and 2) real time recovery of tritium from LL while keeping the tritium inventory level to an acceptable level. By running the LL-loop continuously, it can carry the dust particles and impurities generated in the vacuum vessel to the outside where the dust / impurities can be removed by relatively simple dust filter, cold trap and/or centrifugal separation systems. With ~ 1 l/sec LL flow, even a small 0.1% dust content by weight (or 0.5 g per sec) suggests that the LL-loop could carry away nearly 16 tons of dust per year. In a 1 GW-electric (or ~ 3 GW fusion power) fusion power plant, about 0.5 g / sec of tritium is needed to maintain the fusion fuel cycle assuming ~ 1 % fusion burn efficiency. It appears feasible to recover tritium (T) in real time from LL while maintaining an acceptable T inventory level. Laboratory tests are being conducted to investigate T recovery feasibility with the surface cold trap (SCT) concept.« less
  • Developing a reactor compatible divertor has been identified as a particularly challenging technology problem for magnetic confinement fusion. While tungsten has been identified as the most attractive solid divertor material, the NSTX/NSTX-U lithium (Li) program is investigating the viability of liquid lithium (LL) as a potential reactor compatible divertor plasma facing component (PFC) . In the near term, operation in NSTX-U is projected to provide reactor-like divertor heat loads < 40 MW/m^2 for 5 s. During the most recent NSTX campaign, ~ 0.85 kg of Li was evaporated onto the NSTX PFCs where a ~50% reduction in heat load onmore » the Liquid Lithium Divertor (LLD) was observed, attributable to enhanced divertor bolometric radiation. This reduced divertor heat flux through radiation observed in the NSTX LLD experiment is consistent with the results from other lithium experiments and calculations. These results motivate an LL-based closed radiative divertor concept proposed here for NSTX-U and fusion reactors. With an LL coating, the Li is evaporated from the divertor strike point surface due to the intense heat. The evaporated Li is readily ionized by the plasma due to its low ionization energies, and the ionized Li ions can radiate strongly, resulting in a significant reduction in the divertor heat flux. Due to the rapid plasma transport in divertor plasma, the radiation values can be significantly enhanced up to ~ 11 MJ/cc of LL. This radiative process has the desired function of spreading the focused divertor heat load to the entire divertor chamber facilitating the divertor heat removal. The LL divertor surface can also provide a "sacrificial" surface to protect the substrate solid material from transient high heat flux such as the ones caused by the ELMs. The closed radiative LLD concept has the advantages of providing some degree of partition in terms of plasma disruption forces on the LL, Li particle divertor retention, and strong divertor pumping action from the Li-coated divertor chamber wall. By operating at a lower temperature than the first wall, the LLD can serve to purify the entire reactor chamber, as impurities generally migrate toward lower temperature Li-condensed surfaces. To maintain the LL purity, a closed LL loop system with a modest capacity (e.g., ~ 1 Liter/sec for ~ 1% level "impurities") is envisioned for a steady-state 1 GW-electric class fusion power plant.« less
  • Liquid metal plasma-facing components (PFCs) provide numerous potential advantages over solid-material components. One critique of the approach is the relatively less developed technologies associated with deploying these components in a fusion plasma-experiment. Exploration of the temperature limits of liquid lithium PFCs in a tokamak divertor and the corresponding consequences on core operation are a high priority informing the possibilities for future liquid lithium PFCs. An all-metal NSTX-U is envisioned to make direct comparison between all high-Z wall operation and liquid lithium PFCs in a single device. By executing the all-metal upgrades incrementally, scientific productivity will be maintained while enabling physicsmore » and engineering-science studies to further develop the solid- and liquid-metal components. Six major elements of a flowing liquid-metal divertor system are described and a three-step program for implementing this system is laid out. The upgrade steps involve the first high-Z divertor target upgrade in NSTX-U, pre-filled liquid metal targets and finally, an integrated, flowing liquid metal divertor target. As a result, two example issues are described where the engineering and physics experiments are shown to be closely related in examining the prospects for future liquid metal PFCs.« less