Computational studies of thermoelectric MHD driven liquid lithium flow in metal trenches

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The LiMIT system (Lithium/Metal Infused Trenches) is an innovative plasma-facing component for tokamak divertors, recently proposed at the University of Illinois. Thanks to the coupling of two metals having different Seebeck coefficients, the device is able to generate internal thermoelectric currents as a response to an incoming heat flux from the plasma. One of the two metals is liquid lithium and the second metal is a solid composing the trenches (tungsten, or molybdenum, or stainless steel, etc.). Together with the high toroidal magnetic field, the liquid lithium is propelled by a JxB electrodynamic force inside the solid trenches. In the present work we present a numerical characterization of the device. The diffusion-advection of heat is solved together with the Navier-Stokes equations forced by the JxB electrodynamic force, comprising the thermoelectric contribution. We report parametric plots to show the influence of the toroidal magnetic field and of the plasma heat flux. It is found that the average flow velocity of the liquid lithium peaks at a critical magnetic field, always lower than 1.0 T, and then decreases with an inverse law in the range of tokamak-relevant fields. The flow velocity of the lithium increases with a square-root law versus an increasing heat flux. The heat transfer coefficient of the cooling channels is parametrically investigated, revealing that coefficients higher than >4000 W/m2 K are needed for the device in order to withstand heat fluxes of 10 MW/m2.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2868-2874
Number of pages7
JournalFusion Engineering and Design
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2014


  • Heat transfer
  • Limiter and divertor
  • Liquid lithium
  • MHD
  • Plasma facing component
  • Thermoelectric

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Nuclear Energy and Engineering
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Mechanical Engineering


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