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Development of a Novel Contamination Resistant Ion Chamber for Process Tritium Measurement and Use in the JET First Trace Tritium Experiment

L. B. C. Worth, R. J. H. Pearce, J. Bruce, J. Banks, S. Scales

Fusion Science and Technology / Volume 48 / Number 1 / July-August 2005 / Pages 370-373

Technical Paper / Tritium Science and Technology - Tritium Measurement, Monitoring, and Accountancy /

The accuracy of process measurements of tritium with conventional ion chambers is often affected by surface tritium contamination. The measurement of tritium in the exhaust of the JET torus is particularly difficult due to surface contamination with highly tritiated hydrocarbons. JET's first unsuccessful attempt to overcome the contamination problem was to use an ion chamber, with a heating element as the chamber wall so that it could be periodically decontaminated by baking. The newly developed ion chamber works on the principle of minimising the surface area within the boundary of the anode and cathode.

This paper details the design of the ion chamber, which utilises a grid of 50-micron tungsten wire to define the ion chamber wall and the collector electrode. The effective surface area which, by contamination, is able to effect the measurement of tritium within the process gas has been reduced by a factor of ~200 over a conventional ion chamber. It is concluded that the new process ion chamber enables sensitive accurate tritium measurements free from contamination issues. It will be a powerful new tool for future tritium experiments both to improve tritium tracking and to help in the understanding of tritium retention issues.

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