Interfacial-Engineered Membranes for Efficient Tritium Extraction
Project Innovation + Advantages:
One of the biggest challenges facing the practical deployment of fusion energy-based power is the effective management of tritium resources. Tritium, an isotope of hydrogen with a short half-life, is a fusion fuel and must be continuously generated, recovered, and recycled in any tritium-fueled fusion power plant. Currently, scalable tritium extraction and pumping technologies do not exist. Colorado School of Mines will develop and demonstrate engineered composite membranes for efficient tritium extraction from breeder media and the vessel exhaust. These membranes will be engineered for high performance, stability, and environmental compatibility. Atomic layer deposition and reactive sputtering will be used to modify surfaces and impart desired functionality. This technology enables a lower-cost and safer fusion energy system by eliminating major fuel cycle components and reducing tritium inventory, release, and required breeding ratios.
Successful development of fusion energy science and technology could lead to a safe, carbon-free, abundant energy source for developed and emerging economies.