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The National Spherical Torus Experiment (NSTX), which is undergoing a $94 million upgrade that will make it the most powerful experimental fusion facility, or tokamak, of its type in the world when work is completed in 2015. Experiments will test the ability of the upgraded spherical facility to maintain a high-performance plasma under conditions of extreme heat and power. Results could strongly influence the design of future fusion reactors.

Princeton graduate student Imène Goumiri creates computer program that helps stabilize fusion plasmas

Imène Goumiri, a Princeton University graduate student, has worked with physicists at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) to simulate a method for limiting instabilities that reduce the performance of fusion plasmas. The more instabilities there are, the less efficiently doughnut-shaped fusion facilities called tokamaks operate. The journal Nuclear Fusion published results of this research in February 2016.

Princeton graduate student Imène Goumiri creates computer program that helps stabilize fusion plasmas

Imène Goumiri, a Princeton University graduate student, has worked with physicists at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) to simulate a method for limiting instabilities that reduce the performance of fusion plasmas. The more instabilities there are, the less efficiently doughnut-shaped fusion facilities called tokamaks operate. The journal Nuclear Fusion published results of this research in February 2016.

DOE’s Ed Synakowski traces key discoveries in the quest for fusion energy

The path to creating sustainable fusion energy as a clean, abundant and affordable source of electric energy has been filled with “aha moments” that have led to a point in history when the international fusion experiment, ITER, is poised to produce more fusion energy than it uses when it is completed in 15 to 20 years, said Ed Synakowski, associate director of Science for Fusion Energy Sciences at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). 

DOE’s Ed Synakowski traces key discoveries in the quest for fusion energy

The path to creating sustainable fusion energy as a clean, abundant and affordable source of electric energy has been filled with “aha moments” that have led to a point in history when the international fusion experiment, ITER, is poised to produce more fusion energy than it uses when it is completed in 15 to 20 years, said Ed Synakowski, associate director of Science for Fusion Energy Sciences at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

PPPL engineers design and build state-of-the-art controller for AC to DC converter that manages plasma in upgraded fusion machine

The electric current that powers fusion experiments requires superb control. Without it, the magnetic coils the current drives cannot contain and shape the plasma that fuels experiments in doughnut-shaped tokamaks correctly.

PPPL engineers design and build state-of-the-art controller for AC to DC converter that manages plasma in upgraded fusion machine

The electric current that powers fusion experiments requires superb control. Without it, the magnetic coils the current drives cannot contain and shape the plasma that fuels experiments in doughnut-shaped tokamaks correctly.

Developing the digital safeguard that protects the National Spherical Torus Experiment-Upgrade at PPPL

As the most powerful spherical tokamak in the world, the National Spherical Torus Experiment-Upgrade (NSTX-U) at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) produces magnetic forces that are far greater than what its predecessor could generate. Moreover, the power supply system that drives current in the fusion facility’s electromagnetic coils can potentially produce even higher forces unless properly constrained.

Developing the digital safeguard that protects the National Spherical Torus Experiment-Upgrade at PPPL

As the most powerful spherical tokamak in the world, the National Spherical Torus Experiment-Upgrade (NSTX-U) at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) produces magnetic forces that are far greater than what its predecessor could generate. Moreover, the power supply system that drives current in the fusion facility’s electromagnetic coils can potentially produce even higher forces unless properly constrained.

Top-5 Achievements at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory in 2015

From launching the most powerful spherical tokamak on Earth to discovering a mechanism that halts solar eruptions, scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory advanced the boundaries of clean energy and plasma science research in 2015. Here, in no particular order, are our picks for the Top-5 developments of the year:

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