Structured large-pore foams improve thermal performance of LiMIT-style liquid lithium PFC

M. Szott, S. Stemmley, C. Moynihan, A. De Castro, D. N. Ruzic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


As magnetically confined fusion devices improve, the conditions at the walls become increasingly intense. Plasma facing components (PFCs) must withstand these extreme heat and particle loads without damage or degradation. Liquid lithium PFCs are known to be quite resilient, and the presence of lithium also serves to improve plasma properties. The liquid metal infused trench (LiMIT) concept is an open surface liquid lithium PFC design that has been tested extensively at the University of Illinois and in fusion devices around the world. LiMIT utilizes thermoelectric magnetohydrodynamics (TEMHD) to passively drive liquid lithium flow. This work demonstrates an extension of the LiMIT trench geometry to three dimensions. Additively manufactured large pore metallic foams maintain TEMHD drive while drastically improving heat flux handling and resistance to lithium dryout, a phenomenon where locally high TEMHD forces depresses the lithium level and exposes underlying solid structure. COMSOL multiphysics modeling of the system yields insight into the forces at play in dryout development, and shows the 3D structures can eliminate dryout. Low heat proof-of-concept experimental testing of the system matches computational results, and high heat flux electron beam tests more than double the proven operational range of a LiMIT-style PFC, to 6.8 MW m-2, with no indications of dryout or impending damage.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number016018
JournalNuclear Fusion
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2022


  • COMSOL multiphysics
  • additive manufacturing
  • dryout
  • high heat flux
  • liquid lithium
  • plasma facing component (PFC)
  • thermoelectric magnetohydrodynamics (TEMHD)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nuclear and High Energy Physics
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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