Predictive modeling of a lithium vapor box divertor in NSTX-U using SOLPS-ITER

E. D. Emdee, R. J. Goldston, J. D. Lore, X. Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


The unmitigated heat flux in attached operation of a fusion power plant is predicted to be destructive to any solid divertor surface. Detachment, whereby the plasma pressure drops significantly before reaching the divertor target thus greatly reducing the heat flux and sputtering, will be necessary to ensure adequate lifetime of plasma facing components (PFCs). The lithium vapor box divertor aims to detach the divertor plasma via evaporating and condensing lithium surfaces. By evaporating lithium near or at the divertor plate and condensing it closer to the main chamber, a lithium vapor density gradient can be created. This density gradient ties energy losses to poloidal distance between the target and the detachment point. The radiation zone is then prevented from reaching the X-point as the lithium ionization rate decreases when the detachment front moves away from the divertor target. Here we present Scrape Off Layer Plasma Simulator (SOLPS) simulations of a lithium vapor box divertor using an NSTX-U equilibrium and PFC geometry. The parameters for the core boundary conditions, gas puff intensity, and heat and particle transport coefficients are chosen to match experimental values. Acceptable agreement with experimental Scrape-Off Layer (SOL) widths is found, indicating a reasonable choice of transport coefficients. In predictive simulations, lithium is added via evaporation at the target. Predictions for peak heat fluxes and upstream impurity concentration are given for a variety of evaporation rates. Target electron temperature is predicted to be able to be reduced to recombination levels (below 1 eV) for lithium evaporation rates of 1⋅1023 Li/s, indicating detachment. Peak heat flux at the lower outer target could be reduced by as much as a factor of six while maintaining upstream lithium fractions below 2%. The prevention of lithium from reaching the midplane is shown to be due to an increase in frictional forces acting on the lithium from a deuterium gas puff. Lithium is also shown to be redeposited close to the evaporator which is favorable for initial tests and future capillary porous systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number101004
JournalNuclear Materials and Energy
StatePublished - Jun 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Materials Science (miscellaneous)
  • Nuclear and High Energy Physics
  • Nuclear Energy and Engineering


  • Detachment
  • Divertor
  • Lithium
  • NSTX-U
  • Vapor box


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