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Development of a Tritium Cleanup System for a Large Helical Device Using Nonvolatile Getter Materials

Takao Kawano, Yoichi Sakuma, Toshiki Kabutomori, Mamoru Shibuya

Fusion Science and Technology / Volume 37 / Number 1 / January 2000 / Pages 62-67

Technical Paper /

A tritium cleanup system has been conceptually developed for the large helical device (LHD) at the National Institute for Fusion Science. The system is a processing device employed to remove tritium from exhaust gas. In the exhaust gas discharged from the LHD in normal operation, the major part of tritium constituents should be in a form of hydrogen molecules because the fuel used in plasma experiments with the LHD is hydrogen molecules. From this viewpoint, we have designed a tritium cleanup system, which is characterized by tritium being removed and stored in a form of hydrogen molecules with less impurities, like oxygen and carbon, and its decomposition and the separation processes are introduced to convert various tritiated compounds into a form of hydrogen molecules of high purity. Besides these, there is another aspect in that getter materials are applied in both decomposition of tritiated compounds and storage of hydrogen molecules containing tritium.
The system design is composed of three essential component parts: a hydrogen separator, a hydrogen absorbing vessel, and a decomposition process vessel. The hydrogen separator and the decomposition process vessel make a process loop repeat to remove hydrogen into a form of hydrogen molecules with less impurities. It is important that "less impurities" means having a less bad influence on hydrogen-absorbing materials used in the storage vessel.
We think that the hydrogen separator will be manufactured by employing a palladium hydrogen purifier system, which is available in the marketplace, and the hydrogen storage vessel will also be manufactured by using hydrogen-absorbing alloys like titanium. Thus, the serious problem imposed on us is how to realize the decomposition process vessel. To develop the decomposition process vessel, we thought nonvolatile getter materials were promising and carried out performance tests of methane decomposition by the nonvolatile getter materials, where methane was used because it is hardly decomposed and there is little data for a flowing-gas system.
The tritium cleanup system that was designed is presented. Also, a methane decomposition curve with ZrNi alloys used as one of the typical nonvolatile getter materials is shown, and the probability of the realization of the decomposition process vessel is examined.

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