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.
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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.
Research to develop fusion energy has shown “significant progress” in many areas, according to a new report from the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), a think tank whose members represent some 90 percent of the electricity produced in the United States. At the same time, the report said that a commercial fusion power plant is at least 30 years away, and called for more research on the engineering challenges.
Goldston is a Professor of Astrophysical Sciences at Princeton University and an international leader in the fields of plasma physics and magnetic fusion energy. He is the author of 220 papers in journals and conference proceedings, and in 1995 co-authored with Paul Rutherford the textbook "Introduction to Plasma Physics." He is a contributing author to five other books. In 1988 he was awarded the American Physical Society Prize for Excellence in Plasma Physics. Goldston is a Fellow of the American Physical Society. From 1997 to 2009, he served as Director of the U.S.
Heat escaping from the core of a twelve-million degree nuclear fusion plasma device was successfully contained by a snowflake-shaped magnetic field to mitigate its impact on device walls.
Since completion of the NIF construction project in March 2009, a wide variety of diagnostics, facility infrastructure, and experimental platforms have been qualified. NIF reached its design goal of 1.8 MJ and 500 TW of ultraviolet light in 2012. The Ignition Campaign on the NIF is making steady progress toward achieving ignition. Utilizing precision pulse-shaping, experiments demonstrated the ability to achieve fuel densities of 600-800 g/cm3 along with neutron yields within about a factor of 5 of that required for entering the regime of strong alpha particle heating.
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