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Tritium Production and Permeation in High-Temperature Reactor Systems

[+] Author Affiliations
Piyush Sabharwall, Hans Schmutz, Carl Stoots, George Griffith

Idaho National Laboratory, Idaho Falls, ID

Paper No. HT2013-17036, pp. V004T19A001; 9 pages
  • ASME 2013 Heat Transfer Summer Conference collocated with the ASME 2013 7th International Conference on Energy Sustainability and the ASME 2013 11th International Conference on Fuel Cell Science, Engineering and Technology
  • Volume 4: Heat and Mass Transfer Under Extreme Conditions; Environmental Heat Transfer; Computational Heat Transfer; Visualization of Heat Transfer; Heat Transfer Education and Future Directions in Heat Transfer; Nuclear Energy
  • Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA, July 14–19, 2013
  • Conference Sponsors: Heat Transfer Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-5550-8
  • Copyright © 2013 by ASME


Tritium (Display FormulaH13) is a radioactive isotope of hydrogen formed by ternary fission events (rare emissions of three nuclides rather than two during a fission) and neutron absorption (and subsequent decay) of predecessor radionuclides, particularly 6Li and 7Li. Also in fusion, the concept of breeding tritium during the fusion reaction is of significance for the future needs of a large-scale fusion power plant. Tritium is of special interest among the fission products created in next-generation nuclear reactors such as gas cooled reactors and molten salt reactors, because of the large quantities produced when compared with conventional light-water reactors (LWR) and the higher temperatures of operation for these systems enhances permeation. To prevent the tritium contamination of proposed reactor buildings and surrounding sites, this paper examines the root causes and potential solutions for mitigation of permeation of this radionuclide, including materials selection and inert gas sparging. A model is presented that can be used to predict permeation rates of hydrogen through metallic alloys at temperatures from 450–750°C. Results of the diffusion model are presented along with mitigation strategies for tritium permeation.

Copyright © 2013 by ASME



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