The helium production rates in liquid metals (Pb-Li eutectic alloy, LLE and others) Blanket Breeders (BB) are nearly mol-to-mol linked to tritium and intimately associated with the compulsory requirement of high tritium self-sufficiency of next fusion reactors. When LLE is oversaturated and the helium solubility limit is exceeded, helium atoms can nucleate in the form of bubbles. The presence of helium bubbles within LLE channels could have severe impact on the diverse BB designs, in particular on tritium transport permeation and its recovery.
Even though He is an inert gas assumed to be insoluble, the helium Henry’s constant (KH) in a liquid metal is not zero. The very low KH and difficulties to measure it has historically driven to the absence of basic data. A semi-empirical correlation is proposed providing the helium solubility (i.e.: the helium Henry’s constant) based on Kumar’s cohesion model using the available thermo-physical experimental solubility data for lithium, sodium, potassium, mercury.