Electrical Detector for Detecting Liquid Metal leaks

Web Published:

Princeton Docket # 15-3094-1

Researchers in the Department of Engineering at Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, Princeton University, have designed an electrical detector for detecting liquid metal leaks.


Liquid metal has unique physical properties and many applications. For instance, liquid lithium is a candidate plasma facing component (PFC) material for a fusion reactor. Liquid lithium, liquid antimony alloys and liquid gallium electrodes can be utilized in liquid metal batteries and high-power electrical switches. Liquid metal leaks can be dangerous and hazardous. As a result, liquid metal devices require close monitoring and leak detectors are necessary.


This invention is an electrical detector which detects liquid metal leaks based on metals’ electrical conductivity. The detecting component can also cool down the leaked liquid metal and help solidify it. The leak signal is transmitted to a safety control device, which shuts off power supply for the liquid metal device upon detection of leaks. Such protective actions prevent damage to personnel and equipment.



•       Liquid lithium leak detection in fusion reactor

•       Liquid metal batteries

•       High-power electrical switches



•       High sensitivity

•       Solidify liquid metal

•       Safety control- shut down the system



J. A. Schwartz, M. A. Jaworski, J. Mehl, R. Kaita, and R. Mozulay. Electrical detection of liquid lithium leaks from pipe joints. Review of Scientific Instruments, 85, 11E824 (2014).


Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL)


The U.S. Department of Energy’s Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) is a collaborative national center for fusion energy research. The Laboratory advances the coupled fields of fusion energy and plasma physics research, and, with collaborators, is developing the scientific understanding and key innovations needed to realize fusion as an energy source for the world. An associated mission is providing the highest quality of scientific education.




Michael Jaworski is a staff research physicist at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL).  His work focuses on the understanding of fusion energy and the development of new technologies to enable economical power reactors.  In this regard he currently leads the Materials and Plasma-Facing Components Topical Science Group in the National Spherical Torus Experiment-Upgrade - a premiere fusion research facility located at PPPL.  Jaworski's research has examined self-generation of fluid flow in liquid metals by thermoelectric magnetohydrodynamic processes; stabilization of free-surface liquids via capillary structures, development of high-power density, liquid-metal targets cooled with supercritical-CO2, and analysis of non-equilibrium effects in fusion plasmas.  Jaworski is also active in the development of molten salts for advanced power plants utilizing direct power extraction from combustion products.  Jaworski received his BS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2002.  He received his MS and PhD in Nuclear Engineering from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2009.


Jacob Schwartz is a graduate student the Princeton Program in Plasma Physics. He is interested in the development of fusion energy, and especially in methods to create a practical plasma-material interface. He received his BS in Physics in 2012 from the University of California, Los Angeles.


Intellectual Property & Development status

Patent protection is pending.

Princeton is currently seeking commercial partners for the further development and commercialization of this opportunity.




Michael R. Tyerech

Princeton University Office of Technology Licensing

• (609) 258-6762• tyerech@princeton.edu

Xin (Shane) Peng

Princeton University Office of Technology Licensing

• (609) 258-5579• xinp@princeton.edu


Patent Information:
For Information, Contact:
Chris Wright
Head of Technology Transfer
Princeton University
Jacob Schwartz
Michael Jaworski