Physicist Rajesh Maingi remembers nearly everything. Results of experiments he did 20 years ago play back instantly in his mind, as do his credit card and bank account numbers.
His knack for recalling research results comes in particularly handy. “Knowing results from five-to-20 years ago makes it easier to ask the right questions for contemporary scientific programs,” Maingi said. Such findings have made him a leading expert on key aspects of the physics of plasma, the superhot, charged gas that fuels fusion reactions in donut-shaped magnetic facilities called tokamaks.
Scientists participating in the worldwide effort to develop magnetic fusion energy for generating electricity gave progress reports to the 2013 annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Boston. Speaking were physicists George "Hutch" Neilson of the U.S. Department of Energy's Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, and Richard Hawryluk, deputy director-general of the ITER Organization. Following are summaries of their presentations.
Previewing the next steps on the path to a magnetic fusion power plant
By John Greenwald
Physicist John Schmidt, whose profound and wide-ranging contributions to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) made him a highly respected leader in the worldwide quest for fusion energy, died on February 13 following a brain hemorrhage. He was 72.
One of the most fundamental tenets of astrophysical plasma physics is that magnetic fields can be stretched and amplified by flowing plasmas. In the right geometry, this can even lead to the self-generation of magnetic fields from flow through the dynamo process, a positive feedback instability where seed magnetic fields are stretched and amplified by flow in such a way as to reinforce the initial seed. This happens only when plasma is highly conducting, fast flowing, and when the magnetic field is weak. Laboratory plasmas exploring this parameter regime are surprisingly rare.
Integrated Operation Scenarios ITPA Topical Group Meeting
Three teams led by scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) have won major blocks of time on two of the world’s most powerful supercomputers. Two of the projects seek to advance the development of nuclear fusion as a clean and abundant source of energy by improving understanding of the superhot, electrically charged plasma gas that fuels fusion reactions.
The U.S. Department of Energy’s Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) has joined forces with researchers in South Korea to develop a pre-conceptual design for a pioneering fusion facility in that Asian nation. The proposed device, called K-DEMO, could be completed in the mid-to-late 2030s as the final step before construction of a commercial fusion power plant that would produce clean and abundant energy for generating electricity.