Inorganic membranes for hydrogen isotope-helium separation in fusion energy research

Author(s): Rupsha Bhattacharyya

Inorganic membrane based techniques have been applied to various gas separation processes in the chemical process industries, especially in the separation of hydrogen fromhydrocarbons and carbon dioxide in synthesis gas. In the field of fusion energy research, the separation of hydrogen isotopes, especially deuterium and tritium from a helium stream is of great importance since helium is the inert carrier gas that will purge the tritium bred during fusion from the lithium-containing solid and liquid breeder materials. The efficiency of separation of tritium from helium is a major factor that governs the success of fusion energy systems. Membrane based processes have been studied quite extensively for this separation because of the very high selectivity for hydrogen isotopes that is obtained in this technique as compared to more conventional methods. This review summarises current information about the types of membranes studied for hydrogen separation, their synthesis and characterization methods, the desirable properties of these membranes and the technological difficulties associated with this separation method. Specifically, the suitability of different types ofmembranes for tritiumremoval fromheliumis ascertained in this work.

Share this