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LIFE Tritium Processing: A Sustainable Solution for Closing the Fusion Fuel Cycle

S. Reyes et al.

Fusion Science and Technology / Volume 64 / Number 2 / Pages 187-193

August 2013


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The Laser Inertial Fusion Energy (LIFE) power plant is being designed to deliver a transformative source of safe, secure, sustainable electricity, in a time scale that is consistent with the global energy market needs. The LIFE market entry plant will demonstrate the feasibility of a closed fusion fuel cycle, including tritium breeding, extraction, processing, re-fueling, accountability and safety, in a steady-state power-producing device. While many fusion plant designs require large quantities of tritium for startup and operations, a range of design choices made for the LIFE fuel cycle act to reduce the inprocess tritium inventory. The high fractional burn-up (~30%) in an Inertial Fusion Energy (IFE) capsule 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 material entrained in the facility. Additionally, the high solubility of tritium in the lithium breeder is expected to mitigate the need for development of permeation barriers in the engine systems, normally required to control routine releases within the allowable regulatory limits.

The present paper offers an overview of the design of the LIFE fuel cycle, including a summary of the technology development plan consistent with the delivery schedule of the LIFE market entry plant.

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