PRINCETON, New Jersey (June 6, 2018) – The 23rd International Conference on Plasma Surface Interactions in Controlled Fusion Devices – the preeminent biennial research conference in this field – begins on June 17 and continues for six days.
Any solid surface immersed within a plasma, including those in satellite engines and fusion reactors, is surrounded by a layer of electrical charge that determines the interaction between the surface and the plasma. Understanding the nature of this contact, which can affect the performance of the devices, often hinges on understanding how electrical charge is distributed around the surface. Now, recent research by scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) indicates a way to more accurately measure these electrical properties.
You may be most familiar with the element lithium as an integral component of your smart phone’s battery, but the element also plays a role in the development of clean fusion energy. When used on tungsten surfaces in fusion devices, lithium can reduce periodic instabilities in plasma that can damage the reactor walls, scientists have found.
New insights into the science of fusion energy and the physics of plasma from researchers at PPPL.
Physicists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) have found a way to prevent plasma — the hot, charged state of matter composed of free electrons and atomic nuclei — from causing short circuits in machines such as spacecraft thrusters, radar amplifiers, and particle accelerators.
To fuse hydrogen atoms into helium, doughnut-shaped devices called tokamaks must maintain the heat of the ultrahot plasma they control. But like boiling water, plasma has blobs, or bubbles, that percolate within the plasma edge, reducing the performance of the plasma by taking away heat that sustains the fusion reactions.
Detailed computer simulation indicates good news for the international tokamak under construction in France.
The Lithium Tokamak Experiment (LTX), the first facility to fully surround plasma with liquid lithium.
A nationwide team of researchers led by physicist C.S. Chang of the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) has won the use of 269.9 million supercomputer hours to complete an extreme-scale study of the complex edge region of fusion plasmas. The award was made by the DOE’s ASCR Leadership Computing Challenge (ALCC) program for 2017, supported by DOE’s Office of Science.
Plasma that fuels fusion must stay stable and hot. Lithium can be effective for both, researchers find.
Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory is a U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory managed by Princeton University.
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