Process Intensification Scale-Up of Direct LiT Electrolysis
Direct lithium tritide (LiT) electrolysis uses advanced solid lithium-conducting electrolytes to reduce the complexity and footprint of tritium extraction from breeding-blanket materials, such as lead-lithium, in fusion-energy systems. Savannah River National Laboratory’s new process eliminates the need for expensive equipment like centrifugal systems and molten salts used in other proposed technologies. The process improvements enable the reaction to be performed in existing process vessels such as the blanket buffer tank and reduces the entire tritium-extraction system footprint. This system uses solid lithium ion ceramic conductors that serve as both the electrolyte and separator of the two sides of the reaction. Because the ceramic conductors are ionic and not electrical conductors, the extraction of LiT can be carried out in molten metal without the need for additional salts as electrolytes. The solid-state ceramic electrolyte simplifies the tritium extraction process because it is stable in molten lithium and has a high lithium ion conductivity that enables high electrical efficiency. The simplicity and throughput of the tritium recovery system are significantly improved by direct LiT electrolysis, which will in turn dramatically reduce tritium residence times and inventories within the liquid metal system. This project will scale up the process from the presently demonstrated proof-of-concept scale to an intermediate scale, thus demonstrating viability for further fusion-relevant scaleup.
Successful development of fusion energy science and technology could lead to a safe, carbon-free, abundant energy source for developed and emerging economies.
The GAMOW program will advance American leadership in fusion energy science and technology.
If successfully developed and commercialized, fusion energy can provide abundant, zero-carbon energy.
Advances in GAMOW’s technical areas will help accelerate progress toward commercial fusion energy and a new zero-carbon energy economy.