Liquid metal plasma-facing components (PFCs) have been proposed as a means of solving several problems facing the creation of economically viable fusion power reactors. To date, few demonstrations exist of this approach in a diverted tokamak and we here provide an overview of such work on the National Spherical Torus Experiment (NSTX). The Liquid Lithium Divertor (LLD) was installed and operated for the 2010 run campaign using evaporated coatings as the filling method. The LLD consisted of a copper-backed structure with a porous molybdenum front face. Nominal Li filling levels by the end of the run campaign exceeded the porosity void fraction by 150%. Despite a nominal liquid level exceeding the capillary structure and peak current densities into the PFCs exceeding 100 kA m-2, no macroscopic ejection events were observed. In addition, no substrate line emission was observed after achieving lithium-melt temperatures indicating the lithium wicks and provides a protective coating on the molybdenum porous layer. Impurity emission from the divertor suggests that the plasma is interacting with oxygen-contaminated lithium whether diverted on the LLD or not. A database of LLD discharges is analysed to consider whether there is a net effect on the discharges over the range of total deposited lithium in the machine. Examination of H-97L indicates that performance was constant throughout the run, consistent with the hypothesis that it is the quality of the surface layers of the lithium that impact performance. The accumulation of impurities suggests a fully flowing liquid lithium system to obtain a steady-state PFC on timescales relevant to NSTX.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Nuclear and High Energy Physics
- Condensed Matter Physics