Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Plasma experiment demonstrates admirable self-control

14.11.2013
Researchers exploit plasma self-organization as a path to economical fusion power

A team of Chinese and American scientists has learned how to maintain high fusion performance under steady conditions by exploiting a characteristic of the plasma itself: the plasma self-generates much of the electrical current needed for plasma containment in a tokamak fusion reactor. This self-generated, or "bootstrap," current has significant implications for the cost-effectiveness of fusion power.

Magnetic fusion energy research uses magnetic fields to confine the fusion fuel in the form of a plasma (ionized gas) while it is heated to the very high temperatures (more than 100 million degrees) necessary for the ions to fuse and release excess energy that can then be turned into electricity.

The most developed approach uses the tokamak magnetic confinement geometry (a torus shaped vessel), and it is the basis for ITER, a 500-MW heat generating fusion plant currently being built in France by a consortium of seven parties—China, the European Union, India, Japan, Russia, South Korea and the United States.

In the tokamak configuration, the confining magnetic field is generated by external coils and by an electric current flowing within the plasma. The cost of driving these currents has a strong impact on the economic attractiveness of a fusion reactor based on the tokamak approach. One step to minimizing this cost is to make the external coils of superconducting wire.

The second step is to take full advantage of a surprising feature of the tokamak configuration: under certain conditions the electric current in the plasma can be generated by the plasma itself ("bootstrap" current).

The recent joint experiment, carried out on the DIII-D National Fusion Facility at General Atomics in San Diego, involved scientists from the DIII-D tokamak and from the Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST), a fusion energy research facility at the Institute of Plasma Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences (ASIPP) in Hefei, China.

Building on earlier DIII-D work, the experiment found that it is feasible for a tokamak to operate reliably at high fusion performance with most (more than 85 percent) of its plasma current consisting of bootstrap current. These conditions were maintained for several seconds, beyond the characteristic time scale of the plasma current evolution, and limited only by DIII-D pulse length constraints.

"It is often said that a plasma with a high fraction of self-generated (bootstrap) current would be difficult to control. However, these experiments show that a high bootstrap fraction plasma is very stable against transients: the plasma seems to 'like' a state where a large fraction of the current is self-generated," said Dr. Andrea Garofalo, General Atomics scientist and co-leader of the joint experiment.

These results build the foundation for follow-up experiments to be conducted on EAST, where the superconducting coils enable extension to very long pulse, and verification of the compatibility of this regime with reactor relevant boundary conditions.

ASIPP Director Prof. Jiangang Li remarked, "After the successful joint experiments in DIII-D, I am fully convinced that the DIII-D results can be reproduced on EAST in the near future, which will help us achieve the demonstration of high fusion performance in long pulse tokamak discharges."

Research Contact:
Andrea Garofalo
General Atomics
(858) 455-2123
garofalo@fusion.gat.com

James Riordon | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.aps.org

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Tangled magnetic fields power cosmic particle accelerators
14.12.2018 | DOE/SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

nachricht In search of missing worlds, Hubble finds a fast evaporating exoplanet
14.12.2018 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Data use draining your battery? Tiny device to speed up memory while also saving power

The more objects we make "smart," from watches to entire buildings, the greater the need for these devices to store and retrieve massive amounts of data quickly without consuming too much power.

Millions of new memory cells could be part of a computer chip and provide that speed and energy savings, thanks to the discovery of a previously unobserved...

Im Focus: An energy-efficient way to stay warm: Sew high-tech heating patches to your clothes

Personal patches could reduce energy waste in buildings, Rutgers-led study says

What if, instead of turning up the thermostat, you could warm up with high-tech, flexible patches sewn into your clothes - while significantly reducing your...

Im Focus: Lethal combination: Drug cocktail turns off the juice to cancer cells

A widely used diabetes medication combined with an antihypertensive drug specifically inhibits tumor growth – this was discovered by researchers from the University of Basel’s Biozentrum two years ago. In a follow-up study, recently published in “Cell Reports”, the scientists report that this drug cocktail induces cancer cell death by switching off their energy supply.

The widely used anti-diabetes drug metformin not only reduces blood sugar but also has an anti-cancer effect. However, the metformin dose commonly used in the...

Im Focus: New Foldable Drone Flies through Narrow Holes in Rescue Missions

A research team from the University of Zurich has developed a new drone that can retract its propeller arms in flight and make itself small to fit through narrow gaps and holes. This is particularly useful when searching for victims of natural disasters.

Inspecting a damaged building after an earthquake or during a fire is exactly the kind of job that human rescuers would like drones to do for them. A flying...

Im Focus: Topological material switched off and on for the first time

Key advance for future topological transistors

Over the last decade, there has been much excitement about the discovery, recognised by the Nobel Prize in Physics only two years ago, that there are two types...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

ICTM Conference 2019: Digitization emerges as an engineering trend for turbomachinery construction

12.12.2018 | Event News

New Plastics Economy Investor Forum - Meeting Point for Innovations

10.12.2018 | Event News

EGU 2019 meeting: Media registration now open

06.12.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Data use draining your battery? Tiny device to speed up memory while also saving power

14.12.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Tangled magnetic fields power cosmic particle accelerators

14.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

In search of missing worlds, Hubble finds a fast evaporating exoplanet

14.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>