When the ITER experimental fusion reactor begins operation in the 2020s, over 40 diagnostic tools will provide essential data to researchers seeking to understand plasma behavior and optimize fusion performance. But before the ITER tokamak is built, researchers need to determine an efficient way of fitting all of these tools into a limited number of shielded ports that will protect the delicate diagnostic hardware and other parts of the machine from neutron flux and intense heat.
ITER is a large international fusion experiment aimed at demonstrating the scientific and technological feasibility of fusion energy.
ITER (Latin for "the way") will play a critical role advancing the worldwide availability of energy from fusion — the power source of the sun and the stars.
To produce practical amounts of fusion power on earth, heavy forms of hydrogen are joined together at high temperature with an accompanying production of heat energy. The fuel must be held at a temperature of over 100 million degrees Celsius. At these high temperatures, the electrons are detached from the nuclei of the atoms, in a state of matter called plasma.
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.
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.
The French government has capped more than two years of review by issuing a license for the construction of ITER, the international fusion project that the European Union, the United States and five other countries are building in Cadarache, France, to demonstrate the feasibility of fusion energy. French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault signed the decree authorizing the license on Nov. 10, 2012. The move confirms the safety of the ITER project and clears the way for its construction.
U.S. ITER is responsible for providing the ITER Central Solenoid (CS), nine lengths of Toroidal Field (TF) Coil conductor, and Insert Coils for assessing CS and TF conductor performance. The status of the ongoing design and fabrication efforts will be reviewed. The interesting hurdles that had to be negotiated, the lingering problems, and the lessons learned will be discussed.
(At the presenter's request, no video or presentation materials are available for this lecture.)
David Johnson is a principal research physicist with broad experience in techniques and instrumentation for measuring the characteristics of magnetic fusion plasmas. He has specific expertise in laser Thomson scattering systems, and has installed and operated such systems on many fusion devices around the world. He managed a division of plasma diagnostic experts for the Tokamak Fusion Test Reactor (TFTR) and National Spherical Torus Experiment (NSTX) projects, more recently becoming the Work Breakdown Structure Team Leader for US ITER Diagnostics.
Researchers at a recent worldwide conference on fusion power have confirmed the surprising accuracy of a new model for predicting the size of a key barrier to fusion that a top scientist at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) has developed. The model could serve as a starting point for overcoming the barrier.