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Performance of a liquid Sn divertor target during ASDEX Upgrade L-mode and H-mode operation

One of the ways to extend the lifetime of the divertor for DEMO could be to replace the solid tungsten plasma-facing components with liquid tin (Sn) confined in a tungsten capillary porous structure (CPS). Testing a CPS in a divertor plasma configuration is crucial for the development of a liquid metal divertor (LMD) to understand how the main plasma is affected. Only a limited Sn concentration is allowed in the plasma core, due to the high radiative losses associated with the high atomic number of Sn (50). Therefore, it is necessary to test a small-scale LMD filled with Sn in a tokamak environment, which has not previously been done. In ASDEX Upgrade, a liquid tin module (LTM) has been exposed by means of the divertor manipulator. During plasma flat-top, the outer strike point (OSP) was placed onto the pre-heated LTM and held there for a time interval between 2 and 3.4 s over multiple discharges. Photographs of the LTM taken after each discharge, revealed macroscopic Sn leakage onto the adjacent tile. Simulations with the HeatLMD code predicted an acceptable tin erosion near the LTM with thermal sputtering dominating over evaporation. However, spectroscopic measurements revealed an order of magnitude higher erosion. Since this remained constant when the OSP was held on the LTM so that the surface temperature increased, evaporation could be excluded as the main source of Sn erosion. Comparison between discharges with different durations of OSP location on the LTM revealed an increase in core radiation up to 1.5 MW due to Sn. The 1.5D-impurity transport code STRAHL was used to interpret this increase in total plasma radiation and revealed a Sn concentration in the main plasma of up to 1.4 x 10 -4. Given that the LTM only covered about 1/650 of the outer divertor circumference, extrapolating to a full toroidal divertor implies erosion is above acceptable limits. The unexpectedly high Sn fraction in the main plasma is attributed to the ejection of Sn droplets reaching the main plasma, which may have originated from either the CPS or leaked tin. This conclusion is also supported by splashes of tin droplets, which were observed on the adjacent divertor tile and one ~1.5m downstream. Therefore, to make a Sn-filled LMD a viable alternative to solid tungsten, the formation of droplets must be reduced by two orders of magnitude.
Year of Publication
Nuclear Materials and Energy
Number of Pages
Date Published
Alternate Journal
Nucl. Mater. Energy
Journal Article
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