Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) have helped design and test a component that could improve the performance of doughnut-shaped fusion facilities known as tokamaks.
Called a “liquid lithium limiter,” the device has circulated the protective liquid metal within the walls of China’s Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) and kept the plasma from cooling down and halting fusion reactions. The journal Nuclear Fusion published results of the experiment in March 2016. The research was supported by the DOE Office of Science.
“We demonstrated a continuous, recirculating lithium flow for several hours in a tokamak,” said Rajesh Maingi, head of boundary physics research and plasma-facing components at PPPL. “We also demonstrated that the flowing liquid lithium surface was compatible with high plasma confinement and with reduced recycling of the hydrogen isotope deuterium to an extent previously achieved only with evaporated lithium coatings. The recirculating lithium provides a fresh, clean surface that can be used for long-lasting plasma discharges.”