Robust Cellular Solid Breeder Material for Enhanced Tritium Production
In a fusion reactor solid tritium breeder blanket, small pebbles of ceramic breeder are packed into a blanket container in order to breed and extract tritium, which is the main fuel of next- generation deuterium-tritium fusion reactors. The current sphere-pack technology imposes severe design and operational limitations as a result of poor thermal conductivity between pebbles, pebble sintering during high temperature transients, creep deformation leading to bed reconfiguration, and limits on the packing fraction that increases the need for neutron multipliers. Ultramet and Digital Materials Solutions propose the development of a cellular solid breeder structure at nearly 80% overall breeder density with an internal network of interconnected microchannels for efficient release of tritium. The advantages of the proposed approach are a robust free-standing breeder material structure with internal microchannels for tritium purging, high tritium breeding ratio, high thermal conductivity, elimination of large breeder-structure interface temperature drop, elimination of pore closure due to sintering, and very low production cost. Commercial applications and other benefits: Nuclear fusion offers a replacement for increasingly scarce fossil fuel energy sources. Alternatives to fossil fuels (e.g. wind, solar, geothermal) cannot generate sufficient energy to meet current needs. Fusion, with its low generation of radioactive waste, is ideal for large-scale energy generation. Practical application is absolutely dependent on development of advanced solid breeder materials.
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