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Physics and Technology Research for Liquid-Metal Divertor Development, Focused on a Tin-Capillary Porous System Solution, at the OLMAT High Heat-Flux Facility


The operation of the Optimization of Liquid Metal Advanced Targets (OLMAT) facility began in April 2021 with the scientific objective of exposing liquid-metal plasma facing components (PFCs) to the particle and power fluxes provided by one of the hydrogen neutral beam injectors of the TJ-II stellarator. The system can deliver heat fluxes from 5 to 58 MW m−2 of high energy hydrogen neutral particles (≤ 33 keV) with fluxes up to 1022 m2 s−1 (containing an ion fraction ≤ 33% in some instances), pulsed operation of 30–150 ms duration and repetition rates up to 2 min−1. These characteristics enable OLMAT as a high heat flux (HHF) facility for PFC evaluation in terms of power exhaust capabilities, thermal fatigue and resilience to material damage. Additionally, the facility is equipped with a wide range of diagnostics that includes tools for analyzing the thermal response of the targets as well as for monitoring atomic/plasma physics phenomena. These include spectroscopy, pyrometry, electrical probing and visualization (fast and IR cameras) units. Such particularities make OLMAT a unique installation that can combine pure technological PFC research with the investigation of physical phenomena such as vapor shielding, thermal sputtering, the formation/characterization of plasma plumes with significant content of evaporated metal and the detection of impurities in front of the studied targets. Additionally, a myriad of surface characterization techniques as SEM/EDX for material characterization of the exposed PFC prototypes are available at CIEMAT. In this article, first we provide an overview of the current facility upgrade in which a high-power CW laser, that can be operated in continuous and pulsed modes (0.2–10 ms), dump and electrical (single Langmuir) probe embedded on the target surface have been installed. This laser operation will allow simulating more relevant heat loading scenarios such as nominal steady-state divertor heat fluxes (10–20 MW m−2 in continuous mode) and transients including ELM loading and disruption-like events (ms time scales and power densities up to GW m−2 range). The work later focuses on the more recent experimentation (2022 fall campaign) where a 3D printed Tungsten (W) Capillary Porous System (CPS) target, with approximated 30 μm pore size and a 37% porosity and filled with liquid tin. This porous surface was a mock-up of the PFC investigated in the ASDEX Upgrade divertor manipulator. The target composed with this element was eventually exposed to a sequence of shots with the maximum heat flux that OLMAT provides (58 ± 14 MWm−2). Key questions as resilience to dry-out and particle ejection of the liquid metal layer, its refilling, the induced damage/modification of the porous W matrix and the global performance of the component are addressed, attempting to shed light on the issues encountered with the PFC at tokamak scale testing.

Year of Publication
Journal of Fusion Energy
Number of Pages
Date Published
Alternate Journal
J. Fusion Energy
Journal Article
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