Institute for Technical Physics

Vacuum hydraulics and hydrogen separation

Vacuum hydraulics is a completely new field of research which has emerged in recent years from work on vacuum pumps with liquid metals as operating and motive fluid (diffusion and liquid ring pumps).  In general, vacuum hydraulics deals with the flow and use of liquid materials and the handling of solids under vacuum conditions. Vacuum hydraulics is of central importance in the development of vacuum pumps with mercury for fusion applications.

In the field of hydrogen separation, we are developing the metal foil pump, a new type of vacuum pump for the electrolysis-free and thus energy-saving extraction of ultrapure hydrogen from hydrogen-containing gas mixtures for nuclear fusion and the hydrogen economy. For the separation of hydrogen isotopes we are further developing the process of cyclic temperature swing absorption on porous solids.

Our expertise

This field of research opens new doors and points to research topics that have the potential to initiate a quantum jump in process technology. The metal foil pump requires a detailed understanding of cold plasmas for the generation of suprathermal particles, and a detailed understanding of the materials that are suitable for making superpermation.

Current long-term projects

  1. Development of a metal foil pump up to the point of readiness for use.
  2. Development of mercury liquid ring pumps and linear mercury diffusion pumps.
  3. Establishing a modern mercury-based process for the enrichment of lithium-6.
  4. Further development of temperature swing absorption.

Research infrastructure

  1. MAIA and HESTIA test facilities for temperature swing absorption.
  2. HgLab KA.
  3. The THESEUS system for performance characterisation of mercury-based vacuum pumps.

Involved staff