Description: At present, the only solid material believed to be a viable option for plasma-facing components (PFCs) in a fusion reactor is tungsten. Operated at the lower temperatures typical of present-day fusion experiments, tungsten is known to suffer from surface degradation during long-term exposure to helium-containing plasmas, leading to reduced thermal conduction to the bulk, and enhanced erosion. Existing alloys are also quite brittle at temperatures under 700oC. However, at a sufficiently high operating temperature (700 - 1000 oC), tungsten is selfannealing and it is expected that surface damage will be reduced to the point where tungsten PFCs will have an acceptable lifetime in a reactor environment. The existence of only one potentially viable option for solid PFCs, though, constitutes one of the most significant restrictions on design space for DEMO and follow-on fusion reactors. In contrast, there are several candidates for liquid metal-based PFCs, including gallium, tin, lithium, and tin-lithium eutectics. We will discuss options for liquid metal walls in tokamaks, looking at both high and low recycling materials. We will then focus in particular on one of the candidate liquids, lithium. Lithium is known to have a high chemical affinity for hydrogen, and has been shown in test stands1 and fusion experiments2,3 to produce a low recycling surface, especially when liquid. Because it is also low-Z and is usable in a tokamak over a reasonable temperature range (200 - 400 oC), it has been now been used as a PFC in several confinement experiments (TFTR, T11- M, CDX-U, NSTX, FTU, and TJ-II), with favorable results. The consequences of substituting low recycling walls for the traditional high recycling variety on tokamak equilibria are very extensive. We will discuss some of the expected modifications, briefly reviewing experimental results, and comparing the results to expectations.
Date: January 15, 2010
Creator: Majeski, R.
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