Model and simulation of a vacuum sieve tray for T extraction from liquid PbLi breeding blankets

M.A.J. Mertens, D. Demange, L. Frances
Fusion Design and Engineering
Volume 112, Pages 541-547


Tritium self-sufficiency within a nuclear fusion reactor is necessary to demonstrate nuclear fusion as a viable source of energy. Tritium can be produced within liquid eutectic PbLi but then has to be extracted to be refuelled to the plasma. The vacuum sieve tray (VST) method is based on the extraction of tritium from millimetre-scaled oscillating PbLi droplets falling inside a vacuum chamber. A simulation tool was developed describing the fluid dynamics occurring along the PbLi flow and was used to study the influence of the different geometrical and operational parameters on the VST performance. The simulation predicts that extraction efficiencies over 90% can be easily reached according to theory and previous experimental results. The size of the VST extraction unit for a fusion reactor is estimated based on the findings from our single-nozzle model and assuming no T reabsorption. It is found to be in the feasible range. Nevertheless, two approaches are discussed which may further reduce this size by up to 90%. The simulation tool proved to be an easy and powerful way to analyse and optimise VST set-ups at any scale.