Case study

Lead-lithium flow loop concept design

Applying a systems engineering approach to design a state-of-the-art flow loop, for use in lead-lithium breeder blanket technologies.


A key challenge in nuclear fusion reactor commercialisation is the development of efficient tritium breeding and plasma cooling technologies for net energy gain. This case study addresses in-vessel component considerations for fusion devices, including the concept design of a flow loop to understand knock-on effects of increasing tritium breed ratios.

The challenge

Lead-Lithium is a promising breeder blanket technology candidate to meet cooling and breeding requirements within a Tokamak.

We were commissioned by UKAEA for a Concept Study of a flow loop to allow investigation of molten lead-lithium fluid properties and flow behaviour in representative blanket conditions and varying lithium/lead concentrations. Increasing lithium concentration can provide greater tritium breeding ratios.


Our approach

Frazer-Nash applied a systems engineering approach to meet UKAEA’s requirements using best practice from industry and scientific communities. Experience from thermal hydraulic system design, previous concept designs and liquid-metal expertise from project partners, NNL, underpinned our approach to determine a state-of-the-art flow loop design. Activities included:

  • Exploring a range of flow loop options that could meet the developed requirement set for the concept; conducting industry research, literature reviews and supplier engagement equipment;
  • Using our in-house technical expertise and processes to down select to preferred options;
  • Developing concept design documents to record and substantiate the chosen design, including: heat and mass balances, heat exchanger optioneering, magnetohydrodynamic studies, magnetic field analysis and pressure losses, piping and instrumentation diagrams, hazard identification, and a 2D plot plan.


The outcome

Our ability to bring together both in-house and industry expertise contributed to the success of this project. We delivered a robust and cost-effective experimental test rig concept design allowing the UKAEA IVC team to understand the challenges and opportunities associated with building the required loop before committing to significant investment.

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