Tritium Safety and Tritium Research

Fusion Safety/Tritium Research

The Idaho National Laboratory (INL) Fusion Safety Program (FSP) was founded over 30 years ago.  The FSP is an international leader in the pursuit of safe and environmentally sound advanced energy systems; many aspects of fusion design are affected by considerations of public, worker, and environmental safety.

The FSP employs safety assessment to develop and implement regulatory-directed safety analysis tools capable of simulating vastly varying scales of physical phenomena, study risk and reliability applied to fusion systems, investigate thermo-physical and thermo-chemical behavior of components for the development of nuclear fusion technology concepts and validation safety analysis tools. 

Computer analysis codes such as MELCOR-Fusion, MAGARC, TMAP, and RELAP5 3-D are used.  The FSP maintains a strong experimental program in the Safety and Tritium Applied Research (STAR) Facility, investigating behavior of system components to single or multiple, synergistic effects.  For example, measurements of chemical reaction kinetic parameters of beryllium dust layers exposed to moist air are used to set parameters in the reactivity models used in the ITER safety analysis.  Chemical reactivity, tritium permeation and solubility experiments with metals and fusion coolants are being performed.  Tritium mass transport properties are measured directly for first wall materials in the Tritium Plasma Experiment (TPE), thereby allowing validated quantification of in-vessel tritium inventory in ITER. 

Experiments of this nature, and many more, are performed in the STAR, which is a DOE-SC National Users Facility.  STAR is one of very few tritium laboratories in the world that can be utilized for mass transport tests of deuterium and tritium isotopes on irradiated materials, a very important area of study for the development of fusion nuclear technology.  A unique feature of the FSP is having in-house expertise in both experiments and simulation, and direct interaction between the two groups.