Measurement of Implanted Helium Particle Transport by a Flowing Liquid Lithium Film

April 15, 2006

J. Nucl. Mater., 350, 101-112 (2006).

Nieto, M., Ruzic, D. N., Olczak, W., Stubbers, R.

Due to its low atomic number, low sputtering yield, high sputtered ion fraction and excellent thermal properties, liquid lithium has been proposed as a potential candidate for advanced plasma-facing components (PFC). Using a liquid material opens the possibility of a continuously flowing, self-regenerating plasma-facing surface with a small residence time. This would allow such component to handle very high heat loads that are expected. There are, however, multiple unanswered questions regarding how such a liquid PFC would interact with the plasma in the reactor. The issue of particle control is critical, and it can be a factor to determine the feasibility of these advanced concepts. Hydrogen and helium are important in this regard: hydrogen transport by a flowing PFC impacts the reactor fuel recycling regime and tritium inventory; helium transport can help quantify ash removal by the flowing PFC. The flowing liquid-metal retention experiment (FLIRE) was built at the University of Illinois to answer some of the questions regarding particle transport by flowing liquid films exposed to plasmas. Experimental results regarding helium transport by a flowing lithium film after irradiation with an energetic He ion beam are presented in this work. Retained fraction values up to 2% were measured for the experimental conditions, and the retention was found to increase linearly with implanted ion energy. A pure diffusion model was used to describe the helium transport by the Li film, and it was found that such model predicts a diffusion coefficient of (2.8 ± 0.6) × 10−11 m2/s, based on the experimental retention measurements. Preliminary evidence of long-term trapping of helium will also be presented.