The production of reliable, stable, and durable breeder blanket material is one of the most important open challenge of fusion reactor technology.
A new low temperature fabrication method for producing lithium orthosilicate (Li4SiO4) pebbles based on the drip casting was developed at DICI - University of Pisa.
The pebbles were produced starting from a suspension of Li4SiO4 precursors prepared by sol-gel method, which was dripped through the experimental device and coagulated into solid spheres in a saline solution. Li4SiO4 pebbles were finally obtained after sintering at high temperature.
The pebbles produced are stable and well-sized (about 1.5 mm diameter). Pebbles have been analyzed in order to determine their physical and mechanical characterization. To the aim, SEM and X-ray diffractometer analyses were performed as well as compression tests by Instron machine. The pebbles obtained from the drip casting have a mechanical strength (about 11 N) comparable with that of the others solid breeder in pebbles form. In addition, if compared to these latter they have same roundness and sphericity.
Results confirmed the feasibility of drip casting forming technique, and provided further useful information for the optimization of the proposed new fabrication process.