The corrosion induced by alkali metals in steels has been the subject of long decades of intense studies under both nuclear fission and fusion research programs. Li or its eutectic Pb-17Li is the liquid metal coolant choice for fusion blankets due to the tritium breeder capability of Li. Non-metal impurities enhance corrosion, but only N becomes potentially a problem given its high solubility in liquid Li and the depletion of Cr through ternary nitrides Li-Cr-N. The low solubility of C and O allow its cold trapping to values <10 wppm, however N can only be hot trapped demanding temperatures typically of 873 K. The inherent difficulties of experimentation on physicochemical kinetics related with alkali metals lead to a confusing divergence of results available in the literature; however, the understanding of the corrosion phenomena of RAFM steels exposed to flowing Li up to 873 K is mature. Next decade, 14 MeV neutrons will be available for fusion materials testing through Li(d,n) nuclear reactions. In such a facility, a concave RAFM steel backplate will be channelling 523 K flowing Li in the region where the 40 MeV deuteron beam will be impacting. If RAFM steels are considered, two main concurrent mechanisms will take place: a) mass transport of alloying elementsalong the loop and b) depletion of Cr through formation of Li9CrN5. Fortunately, the mass transport phenomena of Cr within the ΔT = 350 K in the loop is limited due to the poor solubility of Cr in liquid Li (0.21 wppm at 873 K). In turn, at 523 K Li the activity of N to form the ternary compound is negligible. However, the high solubility of Ni in Li (2144 wppm at 873 K), suggests the presence of mass transport phenomena of Ni from the stainless steel piping; unfortunately, the physicochemical kinetics are not fully understood. Lifus 6, in operation in Brasimone (ENEA) since the end 2015, will close in a definitive manner remaining open questions.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Civil and Structural Engineering
- Materials Science(all)
- Nuclear Energy and Engineering
- Mechanical Engineering
Knaster, J., & Favuzza, P. (2017). Assessment of corrosion phenomena in liquid lithium at T < 873 K. A Li(d,n) neutron source as case study. Fusion Engineering and Design, 118, 135 - 141. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fusengdes.2017.03.063