Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Tokamak fusion test reactor removal successfully completed


One of the world’s largest and most successful experimental fusion machines has been safely disassembled and cleared away. In September, staff at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) completed the dismantling and removal of the Tokamak Fusion Test Reactor (TFTR), which shut down in 1997 following 15 years of operation. During its experimental life, TFTR set records for fusion performance and made major contributions to the development of fusion as a long-term energy alternative. The PPPL team finished the removal of TFTR on schedule and under budget.

"This marks the end of an important chapter in the history of fusion," said Raymond L. Orbach, Director of the Office of Science, which oversees PPPL for the U.S. Department of Energy. "The Tokamak Fusion Test Reactor achieved many firsts that brought us closer to an era of fusion power. Now that the decommissioning of TFTR has been completed safely, on schedule and under budget, in keeping with Office of Science best practices, we look forward to continued contributions in fusion power research from PPPL."

PPPL Director Robert J. Goldston noted, "The unprecedented scientific success of TFTR experiments has now been followed by its safe dismantling and removal. Not only did TFTR greatly advance fusion science, but its safe, cost-effective, and efficient decommissioning also demonstrates the promise of fusion as an environmentally attractive, economical energy source."

TFTR was the world’s first magnetic fusion device to perform extensive scientific experiments with plasmas composed of 50/50 deuterium/tritium (D-T), the fuel mix required for practical fusion power production, and also the first to produce more than 10 million watts of fusion power. In 1995, TFTR attained a world-record temperature of 510 million degrees centigrade - more than 25 times that at the center of the sun.

Since the completion of D-T experiments on TFTR in 1997, PPPL has focused on nurturing the best new ideas in fusion research, both in advanced tokamaks and in innovative confinement configurations. Two major experimental projects, along with increased theory and computation, will anchor this program. The first, the National Spherical Torus Experiment (NSTX), is already producing an increased understanding of fusion physics. The second, the National Compact Stellarator Experiment (NCSX), now being designed, will provide further insight into the capabilities of stellarators, particularly for stable, continuous operation.

Work on the removal of TFTR began in October of 1999. The experiment stood 24-feet tall with a diameter of 38 feet. It contained an 80-ton doughnut-shaped vacuum chamber, 587 tons of magnetic field coils, a 15-ton titanium center column, and a massive stainless-steel support structure. TFTR’s use of a fuel mixture containing tritium, a mildly radioactive form of hydrogen, added to the challenge of its safe and environmentally sound removal.

The most challenging aspect of the TFTR disassembly was the segmentation of the 100-cubic-yard vacuum vessel. Use of conventional technologies such as abrasive sawing and flame cutting could not satisfy health and safety concerns. PPPL’s engineering team effectively addressed all challenges by developing an innovative system - Diamond Wire Cutting used in conjunction with a concrete filling technique - which reduced worker radiation exposure, airborne emissions, and waste generation. PPPL’s unique and innovative application of Diamond Wire Cutting earned the Laboratory the New Jersey Society of Professional Engineers’ 2002 Outstanding Engineering Achievement Award.

In the fusion process, matter is converted to energy when the nuclei of light elements, such as hydrogen, join or fuse to form heavier elements. In experiments such as TFTR, physicists employ magnetic fields to confine hot, ionized gases called plasmas, which fuel the fusion reactions. Compared to fossil fuels and fission, now used in commercial power plants, fusion would have distinct advantages, including an inexhaustible fuel supply; no chemical combustion products; and inherent safety, with minimal production of waste.

PPPL, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy and managed by Princeton University, is a collaborative national center for science and innovation leading to an attractive fusion energy source. The Laboratory is on Princeton’s James Forrestal Campus, off U.S. Route 1 in Plainsboro, NJ.

Anthony R. DeMeo | EurekAlert!
Further information:

All articles from Power and Electrical Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

Im Focus: Surveying the Arctic: Tracking down carbon particles

Researchers embark on aerial campaign over Northeast Greenland

On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team...

Im Focus: Unique Insights into the Antarctic Ice Shelf System

Data collected on ocean-ice interactions in the little-researched regions of the far south

The world’s second-largest ice shelf was the destination for a Polarstern expedition that ended in Punta Arenas, Chile on 14th March 2018. Oceanographers from...

Im Focus: ILA 2018: Laser alternative to hexavalent chromium coating

At the 2018 ILA Berlin Air Show from April 25–29, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is showcasing extreme high-speed Laser Material Deposition (EHLA): A video documents how for metal components that are highly loaded, EHLA has already proved itself as an alternative to hard chrome plating, which is now allowed only under special conditions.

When the EU restricted the use of hexavalent chromium compounds to special applications requiring authorization, the move prompted a rethink in the surface...

Im Focus: Radar for navigation support from autonomous flying drones

At the ILA Berlin, hall 4, booth 202, Fraunhofer FHR will present two radar sensors for navigation support of drones. The sensors are valuable components in the implementation of autonomous flying drones: they function as obstacle detectors to prevent collisions. Radar sensors also operate reliably in restricted visibility, e.g. in foggy or dusty conditions. Due to their ability to measure distances with high precision, the radar sensors can also be used as altimeters when other sources of information such as barometers or GPS are not available or cannot operate optimally.

Drones play an increasingly important role in the area of logistics and services. Well-known logistic companies place great hope in these compact, aerial...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

International Virtual Reality Conference “IEEE VR 2018” comes to Reutlingen, Germany

08.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

Wandering greenhouse gas

16.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

'Frequency combs' ID chemicals within the mid-infrared spectral region

16.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Biologists unravel another mystery of what makes DNA go 'loopy'

16.03.2018 | Life Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>