January 18, 2023

Investigating Hydrogen Isotope Exchange Reactions on Lithium Aluminate Pellets in TPBAR


We developed a novel operando Raman spectroscopy method for investigation of hydrogen (H) isotope exchange reactions in the lithium aluminate (?-LiAlO2) that allows modeling of tritium behaviors in high temperature and in an irradiated environment. The lithium aluminate pellet is a main component in the Tritium-Producing Burnable Absorber Rod (TPBAR). We used deuterium (2H or D) as a surrogate to simulate tritium (3H or T). We used a surface analysis tools in situ/operando Raman spectroscopy to observe the transformation OH and OD compositional changes. We also used ToF-SIMS to analyze the lithium aluminate pellet control sample to build the base line for future in situ/operando analysis. To conduct operando Raman spectroscopy, we developed a custom reaction cell with a detachable micro heater using microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) and 3D printing techniques. Multiple versions were developed and tested. Using the new reaction cell, we demonstrated operando Raman spectroscopy of water (H2O) and deuterated water (D2O) with nitrogen (N2) exposure onto the lithium aluminate (LiAlO2) pellet specimen, respectively, using a wet gas injection setup. We also successfully developed a detachable microheater that can heat up to ~250°C for ~90 mins. The Raman spectra did not show clear H2O and D2O characteristic peaks, which indicates that introducing H2O and D2O onto the surface of the pellet is challenging due to its dense structure nature. Our efforts suggest that various improvements are needed, such as increasing reaction cell operating gas pressure and thinning pellet sample thickness, to obtain meaningful measurements.

Published: January 18, 2023


Son J., and X. Yu. 2023. Investigating Hydrogen Isotope Exchange Reactions on Lithium Aluminate Pellets in TPBAR Richland, WA: Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

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