Closing the Fusion Fuel Cycle: Tritium Recovery and Processing

MON, 04/07/2014 - 4:00PM TO 5:00PM
Spring 2014 Colloquium Series

Recent efforts on fusion energy at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) have been focused on delivering a transformative source of safe, secure, sustainable electricity, using a laser inertial confinement approach. A future fusion power plant shall demonstrate the feasibility of a closed fusion fuel cycle, including tritium breeding, extraction, processing, re-fueling, accountability and safety, in a continuously operating power-producing device. While many fusion plant designs require large quantities of tritium for start up and operations, a range of design choices made for an inertial fusion energy (IFE) fuel cycle act to substantially reduce the in-process tritium inventory. The high fractional burn-up in an IFE capsule greatly relaxes the tritium breeding requirements, while the use of only milligram quantities of fuel per shot and choice of a pure lithium heat transfer fluid substantially reduce the amount of tritium entrained in the facility. Additionally, the high solubility of tritium in the lithium is calculated to mitigate the need for development of permeation barriers in the engine systems, normally required to protect against routine releases. A methodology for recovery of the tritium fuel from the blanket via a solvent extraction process is being investigated, with various potential technology solutions under evaluation.

About the Speaker:

Dr. Reyes is a nuclear engineer at LLNL, with more than 15 years of experience in international fusion projects. She is currently leading LLNL’s Inertial Fusion Energy effort for tritium systems and fuel cycle, as is the current Vice-Chair, and upcoming Chair of the American Nuclear Society’s (ANS) Fusion Energy Division. She earned an M.Sci. in Power Engineering from the Polytechnic University of Madrid, and a Ph.D. in Nuclear Engineering from the UNED University in Madrid in 2001. Dr. Reyes joined LLNL’s Fusion Energy Program in 1999 to work on the safety analysis of inertial fusion energy power plant designs. Since then, she has worked in a variety of fusion research projects, including the National Ignition Facility (NIF) in LLNL and the ITER Organization in Cadarache, France, where she supported the project through the coordination of safety analyses and associated documentation in preparation for ITER licensing. Her current interests are focused on the safety and environmental aspects of fusion so as the fuel cycle challenges for future fusion power commercialization.