Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Taming thermonuclear plasma with a snowflake

08.11.2010
News from the 52nd annual meeting of the APS Division of Plasma Physics

Physicists working on the National Spherical Torus Experiment (NSTX) at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory are now one step closer to solving one of the grand challenges of magnetic fusion research—how to reduce the effect that the hot plasma has on fusion machine walls (or how to tame the plasma-material interface).

Some heat from the hot plasma core of a fusion energy device escapes the plasma and can interact with reactor vessel walls. This not only erodes the walls and other components, but also contaminates the plasma—all challenges for practical fusion. One method to protect machine walls involves divertors, chambers outside the plasma into which the plasma heat exhaust (and impurities) flow. A new divertor concept, called the "snowflake," has been shown to significantly reduce the interaction between hot plasma and the cold walls surrounding it.

Strong magnetic fields shape the hot plasma in the form of a donut in a magnetic fusion plasma reactor called a tokamak. As confined plasma particles move along magnetic field lines inside the tokamak, some particles and heat escape because of instabilities in the plasma. Surrounding the hot plasma is a colder plasma layer, the scrape-off layer, which forms the plasma-material interface. In this layer, escaped particles and heat flow along an "open" magnetic field line to a separate part of the vessel and enter a "divertor chamber." If the

plasma striking the divertor surface is too hot, melting of the plasma-facing components and loss of coolant can occur. Under such undesirable conditions, the plasma-facing component lifetime would also be an issue, as they would tend to wear off too quickly.

While the conventional magnetic X-point divertor concept has existed for three decades, a very recent theoretical idea and supporting calculations by Dr. D.D. Ryutov from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory have indicated that a novel magnetic divertor—the "snowflake divertor"—would have much improved heat handling characteristics for the plasma-material interface. The name is derived from the appearance of magnetic field lines forming this novel magnetic interface.

This magnetic configuration was recently realized in NSTX and fully confirmed the theoretical predictions. The snowflake divertor configuration was created by using only two or three existing magnetic coils. This achievement is an important result for future tokamak reactors that will operate with few magnetic coils. Because the snowflake divertor configuration flares the scrape-off layer at the divertor surface, the peak heat load is considerably reduced, as was confirmed by the divertor heat flux on NSTX. The plasma in the snowflake divertor, instead of heating the divertor surface on impact, radiated the heat away, cooled down and did not erode the plasma-facing components as much, thus extending their lifetime. Plasma TV images show more divertor radiation in the snowflake divertor plasmas in comparison with the standard plasmas. Importantly, the snowflake divertor did not have an impact on the high performance and confinement of the high-temperature core plasma, and even reduced the impurity contamination level of the main plasma.

These highly encouraging results provide further support for the snowflake divertor as a viable plasma-material interface for future tokamak devices and for fusion development applications.

Saralyn Stewart | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.utexas.edu

Further reports about: Laboratory NSTX Physic Plasma technology hot plasma magnetic coil magnetic field

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht From the cosmos to fusion plasmas, PPPL presents findings at global APS gathering
13.11.2018 | DOE/Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory

nachricht A two-atom quantum duet
12.11.2018 | Institute for Basic Science

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: A Chip with Blood Vessels

Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.

Cultivating human cells in the Petri dish is not a big challenge today. Producing artificial tissue, however, permeated by fine blood vessels, is a much more...

Im Focus: A Leap Into Quantum Technology

Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.

In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...

Im Focus: Research icebreaker Polarstern begins the Antarctic season

What does it look like below the ice shelf of the calved massive iceberg A68?

On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.

Im Focus: Penn engineers develop ultrathin, ultralight 'nanocardboard'

When choosing materials to make something, trade-offs need to be made between a host of properties, such as thickness, stiffness and weight. Depending on the application in question, finding just the right balance is the difference between success and failure

Now, a team of Penn Engineers has demonstrated a new material they call "nanocardboard," an ultrathin equivalent of corrugated paper cardboard. A square...

Im Focus: Coping with errors in the quantum age

Physicists at ETH Zurich demonstrate how errors that occur during the manipulation of quantum system can be monitored and corrected on the fly

The field of quantum computation has seen tremendous progress in recent years. Bit by bit, quantum devices start to challenge conventional computers, at least...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

“3rd Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP 2018” Attracts International Experts and Users

09.11.2018 | Event News

On the brain’s ability to find the right direction

06.11.2018 | Event News

European Space Talks: Weltraumschrott – eine Gefahr für die Gesellschaft?

23.10.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

New findings help to better calculate the oceans’ contribution to climate regulation

15.11.2018 | Life Sciences

Automated adhesive film placement and stringer integration for aircraft manufacture

15.11.2018 | Materials Sciences

Epoxy compound gets a graphene bump

14.11.2018 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>