America’s economy and security depend upon reliable sources of power. Over the next few decades, almost all of the power plants in the U.S. will need to be replaced, and America’s dependence on fossil fuels presents serious national security concerns. They sap our economy, exacerbate climate change, and constrict our foreign policy. Our newfound boom in natural gas and oil production will ease but not eliminate these underlying issues. (Forbes Leadership Forum website, 4/02/2013)
The process of mapping a path to a commercial fusion reactor by planning a sequence of future machines.
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
International Workshop: MFE Roadmapping in the ITER Era
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.
Seventy participants from 16 countries and international groups gathered at the University of California at Los Angeles under the auspices of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in mid-October to formulate the early stages of a roadmap for the worldwide magnetic fusion program. This “IAEA DEMO Programme Workshop,” the first in an annual series inaugurated this year by the IAEA, focused on key issues for demonstrating electricity generation from fusion on an industrial scale, and identified opportunities for international collaboration.
The crucial next steps on the roadmap to developing fusion energy will be the focus of more than 70 top fusion scientists and engineers from around the world who will gather at the University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA) this month. The Oct. 15-18 session will kick off a series of annual workshops under the auspices of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that will address key scientific and technological challenges facing countries developing fusion as a source of clean and abundant energy for producing electricity.
George “Hutch” Neilson manages PPPL’s stellarator programs and advanced design activities. He is program manager and national point-of-contact for U.S. collaborations with the Wendelstein 7-X stellarator experiment in Germany. Advanced design activities overseen by Neilson include technical studies for next-generation experimental fusion facilities, including the U.S. system studies program and collaborations with South Korea and China on studies of DEMO machines, which would precede commercial fusion power plants.
Fusion energy has the potential to provide an alternative energy supply to the United States as well as the world. As leaders of the American magnetic fusion energy community funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, we have a responsibility to inform the public on the progress of this quest. Since funds are limited, any communications must be prioritized so that the most benefit is received for the expenditure.
An instrument developed by researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) has enabled a research team at a fusion energy experiment in China to observe--in startling detail--how a particular type of electromagnetic wave known as a radiofrequency (RF) wave affects the behavior of hot ionized gas.
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