Experimental, numerical and analytical evaluation of j × B -thrust for fast-liquid-metal-flow divertor systems of nuclear fusion devices

F. Saenz, A. E. Fisher, J. Al-Salami, B. Wynne, Z. Sun, T. Tanaka, T. Kunugi, J. Yagi, K. Kusumi, Y. Wu, G. Yamazaki, C. Hu, K. Hanada, E. Kolemen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Divertor systems of fusion devices are exposed to intense heat loads from plasmas, which degrade solid plasma-facing components. Fast liquid metal (LM) flow divertors may be more advantageous for this purpose but have risk of piling due to intense magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) drag. However, severe deceleration of the flow could be countered with the injection of currents that are transverse to external magnetic fields, allowing to thrust the flow with j × B (Lorentz) forces. Given that the injection of currents as an approach to propel LM-divertor flows has remained experimentally understudied, this article focuses on the evaluation of j × B -thrust and finding its drawbacks. j × B -thrust was experimentally tested with free-surface-LM flows, a vertical magnetic field and an externally applied current. Experiments were reviewed with a theoretical model, showing agreement in the trends of theory and experiments. Full 3D-MHD-free-surface-flow simulations were also performed with FreeMHD and confirmed the sensitivity to unstable flow behavior in LM systems when applying external currents. Furthermore, excessive power requirements are expected for the implementation of j × B -thrust at the reactor scale, making these systems inefficient for commercial devices. This paper evidences that the simple operation of a LM-flow divertor with j × B -thrust, without any of the instabilities caused from reactor plasmas or parasitic currents, already presents intrinsic challenges.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number096015
JournalNuclear Fusion
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Nuclear and High Energy Physics
  • Condensed Matter Physics


  • 3D-MHD simulation
  • FreeMHD
  • divertor
  • liquid metals
  • magnetohydrodynamics
  • nuclear fusion


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