Plasma Physics and Fusion Energy
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Related technology has also progressed enormously. We have pushed the frontiers in magnets , and electromagnetic wave sources and particle beams to contain and heat the plasma. We have also developed techniques so that materials can withstand the intense heat of the plasma in current experiments. Chief among them is the fusion power that has been generated in the laboratory: Fusion power generation escalated from milliwatts for microseconds in the s to 10 megawatts of fusion power at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory and 16 megawatts for one second at the Joint European Torus in England in the s.
Now the international scientific community is working in unity to construct a massive fusion research facility in France. If this power were converted to electricity, it could power about , homes. As an experiment, it will allow us to test key science and engineering issues in preparation for fusion power plants that will function continuously.
Bad times continued
It involves a doughnut-shaped plasma, confined in a very strong magnetic field, which is partly created by electrical current that flows in the plasma itself. Though it is designed as a research project, and not intended to be a net producer of electric energy, ITER will produce 10 times more fusion energy than the 50 megawatts needed to heat the plasma.
It is a strong international statement about the need for, and promise of, fusion energy. From here, the remaining path toward fusion power has two components. First, we must continue research on the tokamak. This means advancing physics and engineering so that we can sustain the plasma in a steady state for months at a time. We will need to develop materials that can withstand an amount of heat equal to one-fifth the heat flux on the surface of the sun for long periods. And we must develop materials that will blanket the reactor core to absorb the neutrons and breed tritium.
Four such ideas are:. Beyond what humans can calculate, these optimized designs produce twisted doughnut shapes that are highly stable and can operate automatically for months on end. That will allow us to build smaller, and likely cheaper, fusion reactors.
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Liquid metals do not break , offering a possible solution to the immense challenge how a surrounding material might behave when it contacts the plasma. Some of these approaches could also function with a weaker magnetic field.
Possible Pathways for Pursuing Burning Plasma Physics and Fusion Energy Development
Government-sponsored research programs around the world are at work on the elements of both components — and will result in findings that benefit all approaches to fusion energy as well as our understanding of plasmas in the cosmos and industry. In the past 10 to 15 years, privately funded companies have also joined the effort , particularly in search of compact tori and low-field breakthroughs. Progress is coming and it will bring abundant, clean, safe energy with it.
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DTU Plasma Physics and Fusion Energy (PPFE), Denmark | Institution outputs | Nature Index
UEA Inaugural lecture: Alternative performance measures: do managers disclose them to inform us, or to mislead us? A Modern Engineer — Edinburgh, Midlothian. Edition: Available editions United Kingdom. The plasma inside a fusion reactor. Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory.
Stewart Prager , Michael C. Zarnstorff , Princeton University. Why fusion power? Adding heat to two isotopes of water can result in fusion. Fusion power is clean. It emits no greenhouse gases, and produces only helium and a neutron. Progress to date The progress in fusion can be measured in two ways.
ITER Now the international scientific community is working in unity to construct a massive fusion research facility in France. ITER From here, the remaining path toward fusion power has two components. Four such ideas are: The W-7X stellarator configuration. The fusion of the hydrogen isotopes deuterium and tritium is the easiest form of fusion that can be achieved on Earth. The process generates a helium nucleus and a neutron is also released along with large volumes of usable energy.
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With fusion, one gram of combustible fuel could generate 90, kilowatt hours of energy in a power plant, which is equivalent to the combustion heat of eleven tonnes of coal. Fusion fuels are inexpensive and evenly distributed throughout the world. Almost inexhaustible quantities of deuterium are available in seawater. Tritium — a radioactive gas with a short half-life of However, it can be produced within the power plant from lithium, which is also available in abundance.
You can find out about the current status of nuclear fusion and research findings on plasma physics here:. Thomas Klinger, Director at the IPP, talks about the special features of the Wendelstein 7-X stellarator and its structure, and the prospects for the construction of a fusion power plant. Experimental operation of the fusion reactor type stellarator kicks off with festive ceremony more.
Scientists discover a process that stabilizes fusion plasmas
Greifswald fusion device now in operation more. Invests millions to launch a US research programme on German device more. Homepage Newsroom Plasma Physics. Plasma Physics As the name suggests, plasma physics concerns the physical properties of plasmas. Wendelstein 7-X: a virtual tour.
Max-Planck-Princeton partnership in fusion research confirmed November 28, Plasma Physics. Astrophysics Energy International Plasma Physics. Energy International Plasma Physics.