I have been working on some of the cooling issues for WB-100 - the 100 MW test reactor using superconducting magnets.
The magnet will consist of a series of concentric pipes. The innermost will contain the superconductor and its coolant at 20K. Next will come a vacuum space and next will come LN coolant. In the vacuum space between the superconductor coolant and the LN coolant the walls will be silvered (or some such) to minimize the radiative heat flow between the superconductor coolant and the LN. Think thermos bottle.
Next space after LN coolant will be another vacuum space. It too will be silvered. Then H2O coolant at around 300K. Another silvered vacuum space. And finally H2O coolant at around 600K.
What we are going to have is a series of concentric vacuum bottles with LHe at 20K at the center and H2O at 600K at the outside. All this plumbed to allow enough flow to keep everything at the proper temperature.
Let me add that any electrons ejected from the surface of this contraption will carry away minimal energy. The alphas will be hitting with 2MeV+. The electrons (those that are not lost due to high energy) will be at 50KeV.
My current plan is to coat the outer surface of the coils with Boron which melts at 2349 K. The purpose is to prevent sputtering of the metallic pipes holding the coolant so the only material sputtered into the reactant space will be a reactant - B11. It has been suggested at Coulter Smithing that an outer sheath for the coil of Titanium might work well since any sputtered atoms would act as a getter. OTOH it might poison the reaction. Lots of unknowns here. We may just have to build one and see what happens.
If we use Boron, we will have to figure out how to balance Boron condensation on the outer magnet structure with Boron sputtering from the reaction.
Below is a picture of a cross section of the superconducting coil.
Update: 06 Feb 008 2046z
I was thinking. Since for a power reactor we will need to water cool the coils. Suppose we made the water jacket thick enough to thermalize neutrons. And then had a B10 layer to absorb them.
It should be possible to cut way down on coil damage and still run superconductors in a D-D machine.
MgB is interesting in that it becomes a better superconductor with some neutron damage
With MgB the resistivity goes up. Critical Field goes up. And critical temperature declines slightly.
The main problem seems to be defects caused by B10 absorbing neutrons.
If B10 was used in shielding and B11 used to make the superconducting wire much longer lifetimes in neutron fluxes should be possible.
The the cross section difference is six orders of magnitude B10 to B11. With B10 @ 10,000 barns at .025 eV and B11 @ .01 barns.
Magnesium has a cross section of about .75 for 2.5 MeV neutrons
Mg is .063 Barns for Thermal Neutrons.
Which says that if we can get an operational life of the superconductors at 10 hours with ordinary Boron, a year should be possible with five to six nines pure B11.
Reduce the Flux another factor of 10 with water moderation and a B10 absorption layer and you are up to 10 years operation. Double that Boron 10 thickness and you are up to 100 years. Which should allow for various inaccuracies and production variations.
10 B has a Maxwellian thermal neutron flux cross section of almost 4,000 barns.
11 B is around .1 barn.
At room temperature Borax B(OH)3 is soluble at about 57 g/ liter. Which is about 9.3 g/ liter of B10.
Maximum properties of MgB occur at 2E18/cm^2 total neutron flux. Let us say 1E18 and have some safety margin.
Typical fission reactor neutron flux is 1E12/second. Let us say because of the lower energy per reaction a D-D reactor would have 50X that flux.
So that is 20,000 seconds at full power with natural boron. Say 4 1/2 hours. If we go to B11 superconductors assume a 1,000 time improvement. That is 4,500 hours. Say 6 months roughly. So we need a B10 shield that can reduce the neutron flux at the coils by a factor of 10. Giving a life of 5 to 7 years continuous operation.
Since MgB is cheap, replacing the coils every 5 to 10 years should not be a big burden. In addition preconditioned coils capable of sustaining 30 T might get a premium.
Update: 07 Feb 008 0414z
I think it is worthwhile to look at the B10 thickness required to absorb 1/10th of the incident thermal neutrons. I calculated it and came up with .005 cm. That is right 5 thousandths of a cm. To slow the neutrons from an average of 2 MeV to .025 eV (thermal energy) requires a thickness of water of about 2 1/4 inches (5.7 cm). About what I would expect to need on the basis of heat transfer and pumping considerations alone. It might be possible to include that B10 thickness (or even 3X that) in the construction of the 300K coolant channel. Just deposit it on the interior since there is no heat transfer consideration (except pumping losses from wall roughness) involved.
At a flux of 1E12 neutrons a second per sq cm., 1 sq cm will have a total flux of 3.16E20 in 10 years. To handle that number of disintegrations would require a thickness of .003 cm. Not too tough. Since the actual density required could be cut in half without seriously affecting the required volume of absorber, it might work out to fill an extra layer with boron powder. That way any break up of "structure" from radiation damage would have little effect on the absorbing properties compared to initial conditions. A layer .1 cm thick could be adequate if you recompressed it from time to time. Certainly a cm or two would be overkill.
I forgot that a D-D reactor with the same thermal power out as a fission nuke will produce about 50X as many neutrons. The 1E12 factor is based on a fission nuke. Still not a show stopper.
I have a show stopper. Each neutron absorbed produces 2.8 MeV. In a D-D reactor there is no way to carry the heat away without adding more water layers. At best a very thin layer might buy us some operational time for a test reactor. The advantage may go to using a B11 superconductor even with its lower Tc. That still only gets us months of operation. Probably good enough for experimental work.
BTW the neutron flux in a D-D reactor with a coil radius of 2 m at the coil radius is on the order of 3E14 neutrons a second at 100 MW fusion output.
With an intermediate layer filled with borated water to absorb 99% of the neutron energy, or 99.9%, you might get the flux down to where powdered boron could handle the rest. Great idea. At 9.3 g/l that is 9.3E-4 g/cc. Compared to 2 g/cc that would require about 10 cm - vs .005 cm for a factor of 10 reduction. Not going to work. So it still looks like MgB11 superconductors with B11 at 4 nines or better. That still only buys you a total of 1,000 hours - probably enough for initial experimental work at 100 MW.
If you could maintain a slurry of boron particles and still keep the whole contraption cool - it might work.
The trouble is that it almost doubles the neutron thermal load (1.75X). The neutrons lose 3.65 MeV thermalizing and then the B10 adds a 2.8MeV alpha. Which increases the total heat load by about 40% in what was already a marginal situation.