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Journal Articles Nuclear Fusion Year : 2021

Bubble formation in liquid Sn under different plasma loading conditions leading to droplet ejection


Liquid metals have been proposed as potential divertor materials for future fusion reactors, and surface stability is a vital requirement for such liquid metal divertors (LMDs). Capillary porous structures (CPSs) have been applied to the design of liquid metal targets as they can avoid MHD instability by surface tension and provide a stable liquid surface. However, our previous work has found that liquid Sn surfaces can be very unstable in hydrogen plasma even in cases without magnetic fields. To increase our understanding of the interaction of liquid Sn surfaces with plasmas, in this work we systematically investigated the surface behaviors of liquid Sn in different plasma exposures in linear plasma devices, either in Nano-PSI at low flux and without magnetic field, or in Magnum-PSI with strong magnetic field strength. Surface instability leading to droplet ejection has been observed and recorded in the experiments. The ejection of droplets is not dependent on magnetic fields and plasma currents, and is found to be dependent on the plasma species and plasma flux and surface temperature. The CPS meshes applied in the experiments cannot completely avoid droplet ejection but can decrease droplet size and lower droplet production rate. In H plasma, droplets were observed once Sn melted even at low fluxes. For the case of N plasma, the appearance of droplets started at a temperature marginally higher than tin-nitride decomposition temperature. Only at high fluxes (~ 10 23-24 m-2 s-1) and high temperatures (900-1000 °C) were a few droplets observed in Ar or He plasma. For all cases, the ejection velocities of most droplets were around 1-5 m/s. Bubble formation, growth and bursting in the plasma-species-supersaturated liquid Sn is proposed as the primary mechanism for the ejection of droplets. Plasma-enhanced solubility is responsible for the achievement of H/N-supersaturated liquid Sn, while high plasma flux implantation is responsible for Ar/He-supersaturated liquid Sn. Once the concentration of plasma species in liquid Sn reaches a certain supersaturation level, nucleation and growth of bubbles occur due to the desorption of dissolved plasma species from the liquid Sn. The formation and bursting of bubbles have been directly observed in the experiment. The sizes of most bubbles were estimated in the range of 40-400 µm or even smaller. A bubble growth model based on Sievert's and Henry's laws is invoked to describe bubble growth in liquid Sn.
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hal-03229685 , version 1 (19-05-2021)



Wei Ou, Frédéric Brochard, T W Morgan. Bubble formation in liquid Sn under different plasma loading conditions leading to droplet ejection. Nuclear Fusion, 2021, 61 (6), pp.066030. ⟨10.1088/1741-4326/abf9e0⟩. ⟨hal-03229685⟩
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