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  • richardmitnick 3:00 pm on August 8, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Fusion technology, , Touring IPP’s fusion devices per virtual-reality viewer,   

    From Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics: “Touring IPP’s fusion devices per virtual-reality viewer” 

    MPIPP bloc

    From Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics

    Max-Planck-Institut für Plasmaphysik
    Press office
    Phone:+49 89 3299-2607Fax:+49 89 3299-2622
    info@ipp.mpg.de

    August 07, 2018

    ASDEX Upgrade and Wendelstein 7-X – as if you were there / 360° view of fusion research

    Wendelstgein 7-X stellarator, built in Greifswald, Germany

    2
    Visit IPP’s research devices any time by virtual reality cardboard viewer and smartphone. Illustration: IPP, Reinald Fenke

    You seem to be standing in the plasma vessel looking around: Where otherwise plasmas with temperatures of several million degrees are being investigated, with a virtual-reality viewer you can now roam around there.

    he viewer gives access at any time to the plasma vessel of the ASDEX Upgrade fusion device at Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics (IPP) in Garching, upstairs, downstairs and in the control room. The plasma vessel of IPP’s Wendelstein 7-X device at Greifswald is likewise always open for a virtual visit, as well as the experimentation hall and the facilities for microwave heating.

    Here’s the way to ASDEX Upgrade and Wendelstein 7-X:
    http://www.sonnenmaschine-vr.de and
    http://www.sternenmaschine-vr.de

    A cardboard viewer or a VR headset provides virtual access by smartphone (with gyro function and acceleration sensor) or directly on the screen of a PC or tablet, depending on the type of viewer used*. And here’s how it works: Select the web address of the device wanted and click there the viewer symbol to select the virtual-reality mode. The screen then splits in two, one bit for each eye, thus providing a spatial image. Now put on the headset or attach the smartphone to the viewer and then you can look in any direction. The VR Setup link on the split screen adapts the image to the smartphone or headset used. Selector switches put you through to the various sites.

    The panoramas were photographed by Volker Steger and the VR conversion was done by Eduard Plesa.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings
    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    MPIPP campus

    The Max Planck Institute of Plasma Physics (Max-Planck-Institut für Plasmaphysik, IPP) is a physics institute for the investigation of plasma physics, with the aim of working towards fusion power. The institute also works on surface physics, also with focus on problems of fusion power.

    The IPP is an institute of the Max Planck Society, part of the European Atomic Energy Community, and an associated member of the Helmholtz Association.

    The IPP has two sites: Garching near Munich (founded 1960) and Greifswald (founded 1994), both in Germany.

    It owns several large devices, namely

    the experimental tokamak ASDEX Upgrade (in operation since 1991)
    the experimental stellarator Wendelstein 7-AS (in operation until 2002)
    the experimental stellarator Wendelstein 7-X (awaiting licensing)
    a tandem accelerator

    It also cooperates with the ITER and JET projects.

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  • richardmitnick 8:02 pm on August 7, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Fusion technology, Lauren Garrison, ,   

    From Oak Ridge National Laboratory: Women in STEM: “Lauren Garrison: Testing materials for the future of fusion” 

    i1

    From Oak Ridge National Laboratory

    August 7, 2018
    Sean Simoneau
    Communications
    simoneausm@ornl.gov
    865.241.0709


    Lauren Garrison

    The materials inside a fusion reactor must withstand one of the most extreme environments in science, with temperatures in the thousands of degrees Celsius and a constant bombardment of neutron radiation and deuterium and tritium, isotopes of hydrogen, from the volatile plasma at the heart of the device.

    Conventional materials cannot endure such punishing conditions, requiring tougher novel materials to be researched and designed before fusion reactors can move from basic science to potential future energy sources. One of the fusion materials researchers looking to find a possible candidate is Lauren Garrison, a Weinberg Fellow in the Nuclear Materials Science and Technology Group at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

    “I’m drawn to plasma facing materials because it is such a challenging environment, so unique and complex, trying to understand how we can have a material that can withstand all of these very difficult conditions,” Garrison said.

    Working with plasma-facing materials is especially tricky, as the environment inside a fusion reactor is like no place on Earth, so the long, arduous process of testing new materials can sometimes feel like assembling a puzzle with no edge pieces to provide a helpful framework.

    “Many of the structural and cooling components have some comparable materials that would be used in a fission reactor, so there is some sort of jumping-off point,” Garrison said. “But the plasma-facing region, which is extremely hot and fusing on one side and connected to structural materials on the other side, has nothing comparable in fission, so it is very specific to this application.”

    Garrison first studied nuclear engineering during her time as an undergrad at the University of Illinois and had several diverse research internship experiences before finding nuclear materials, which she found distinctly interesting and wished to pursue as a career.

    She interned at the university’s Center for Plasma-Materials Interaction, researching plasma processing and plasma modification of surfaces. It was the first research area that caught her attention and gave her experience with lab testing that she hadn’t previously seen in her other classes.

    She then interned at a chemistry lab at the National Polytechnic Institute of Lorraine in Nancy, France, which provided an incredible opportunity to branch out into other subjects and gain a perspective on science culture in another country.

    “As an engineering or science student, having internship experiences is crucial for both getting the hands-on work and getting a sense for the field, for the actual work environment and for different companies or labs,” Garrison said.

    She worked for a short time in the Cryogenic Dark Matter Search research group at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory before being selected for the DOE Office of Science graduate fellowship program, where she first got to visit ORNL and learn how it supported many nuclear materials projects, especially in fusion materials, that were relevant to her interests.

    “No other national lab had the same range of capabilities as ORNL, matched with these amazing materials analysis techniques,” Garrison said. “Whereas smaller labs or universities might be experts in one specific technique, what we have here is the combined benefit of expert scientists in many subareas and the tools to perform all the tests together and compare everything.”

    Garrison had found a place that aligned with her interests and would allow her to push the boundaries of her knowledge. ORNL, as a leader in the field of neutron irradiated materials, enabled her to collaborate with other research groups from around the world to test new materials and processes on a wider scale than was possible at other facilities.

    Garrison is currently collaborating with Japanese researchers on Project PHENIX, an experiment designed to evaluate tungsten and tungsten-based materials for possible use in future fusion reactors.

    The team built a specially instrumented capsule with four different temperature zones to hold more than 1,100 material samples for irradiation in the High Flux Isotope Reactor, a DOE Office of Science User Facility.

    ORNL High Flux Isotope Reactor

    After exposing the capsule to several fuel cycles in HFIR and a cooldown period in a hot cell, Garrison and the project team are now examining the materials to gauge the effects of high heat flux and neutron damage on their microstructures and physical properties.

    The goal of her work is to use the results of these varied tests and create a more well-rounded database of potential fusion materials, connect new information together and fill in the knowledge gaps in the field.

    “At this point, we’re not going to find a magic material that’s perfect in every different condition it needs to withstand, so we are going to have to make a compromise or understand where the weaknesses are,” Garrison said. “The only way we can move towards building something successful is with the broad testing of materials on many different axes to be able to compare them to each other.”

    Garrison would love to see a working fusion reactor in her lifetime and hopes that her work will help contribute to its creation. For now, though, fusion research is still based in basic science, which allows her to pursue questions without specific constraints or a final product in mind.

    “It’s very rewarding for me to be able to think creatively and have some freedom to investigate different avenues,” she said.

    As time goes on and more of the big questions in plasma science are answered, Garrison hopes the public will come to recognize the potential of fusion energy and how the current investments will pay off in the future.

    “I love the big picture of fusion and I think it is easy to get people excited about how great it is for energy,” she said. “Every time I get to talk about it, I get inspired and remember why I’m writing these long reports and doing all this work, because it has really cool applications that it is going towards.”

    See the full article here .

    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    ORNL is managed by UT-Battelle for the Department of Energy’s Office of Science. DOE’s Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time.

    i2

     
  • richardmitnick 11:37 am on July 31, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Cori at NERSC, Fusion technology, , ,   

    From PPPL: “Newest supercomputer to help develop fusion energy in international device” 


    From PPPL

    July 25, 2018
    John Greenwald

    Scientists led by Stephen Jardin, principal research physicist and head of the Computational Plasma Physics Group at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL), have won 40 million core hours of supercomputer time to simulate plasma disruptions that can halt fusion reactions and damage fusion facilities, so that scientists can learn how to stop them. The PPPL team will apply its findings to ITER, the international tokamak under construction in France to demonstrate the practicality of fusion energy. The results could help ITER operators mitigate the large-scale disruptions the facility inevitably will face.

    ITER Tokamak in Saint-Paul-lès-Durance, which is in southern France

    Receipt of the highly competitive 2018 ASCR Leadership Computing Challenge (ALCC) award entitles the physicists to simulate the disruption on Cori, the newest and most powerful supercomputer at the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC) at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

    NERSC Cray Cori II supercomputer at NERSC at LBNL, named after Gerty Cori, the first American woman to win a Nobel Prize in science

    NERSC, a U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science user facility, is a world leader in accelerating scientific discovery through computation.

    Model the entire disruption

    “Our objective is to model development of the entire disruption from stability to instability to completion of the event,” said Jardin, who has led previous studies of plasma breakdowns. “Our software can now simulate the full sequence of an ITER disruption, which could not be done before.”

    Fusion, the power that drives the sun and stars, is the fusing of light elements in the form of plasma — the hot, charged state of matter composed of free electrons and atomic nuclei — that generates massive amounts of energy. Scientists are seeking to replicate fusion on Earth for a virtually inexhaustible supply of power to generate electricity.

    The award of 40 million core hours on Cori, a supercomputer named for Nobel Prize-winning biochemist Gerty Cori that has hundreds of thousands of cores that act in parallel, will enable the physicists to complete in weeks what a single-core laptop computer would need thousands of years to accomplish. The high-performance computing machine will scale up simulations for ITER and perform other tasks that less powerful computers would be unable to complete.

    On Cori the team will run the M3D-C1 code primarily developed by Jardin and PPPL physicist Nate Ferraro. The code, developed and upgraded over a decade, will evolve the disruption simulation forward in a realistic manner to produce quantitative results. PPPL now uses the code to perform similar studies for current fusion facilities for validation.

    The simulations will also cover strategies for the mitigation of ITER disruptions, which could develop from start to finish within roughly a tenth of a second. Such strategies require a firm understanding of the physics behind mitigations, which the PPPL team aims to create. Together with Jardin and Ferraro on the team are physicist Isabel Krebs and computational scientist Jin Chen.

    See the full article here .


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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition


    PPPL campus

    Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory is a U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory managed by Princeton University. PPPL, on Princeton University’s Forrestal Campus in Plainsboro, N.J., is devoted to creating new knowledge about the physics of plasmas — ultra-hot, charged gases — and to developing practical solutions for the creation of fusion energy. Results of PPPL research have ranged from a portable nuclear materials detector for anti-terrorist use to universally employed computer codes for analyzing and predicting the outcome of fusion experiments. The Laboratory is managed by the University for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science, which is the largest single supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit science.energy.gov.

     
  • richardmitnick 12:29 pm on July 6, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ELISE, Fusion technology, , MIPP   

    From Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics: IPP’s ELISE test rig achieves first ITER objective 

    MPIPP bloc

    From Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics

    July 04, 2018
    Isabella Milch

    Neutral-particle heating for ITER / Fast-hydrogen-particle beam for plasma heating.

    The heating beam in the ELISE test rig at Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics (IPP) at Garching near Munich has attained the values needed for ITER: It can maintain for 1,000 seconds a particle beam composed of negatively charged hydrogen ions with the current strength of 23 amperes desired by ITER.
    ELISE is serving to prepare one of the heating methods that are to bring the plasma of the international ITER test reactor to several million degrees. The core piece is a novel high-frequency ion source developed at IPP that produces the high-energy particle beam.

    1
    One of the accelerator grids that get the hydrogen atoms in the ELISE ion source to the right velocity. The particle beam is extracted as individual beams through 640 small apertures in the grid surface of about a square metre. Photo: IPP

    The international ITER (Latin for ‘the way’) test reactor, now being built in France as a world-wide cooperation, is to demonstrate that a fusion fire supplying energy is possible.

    Iter experimental tokamak nuclear fusion reactor that is being built next to the Cadarache facility in Saint Paul les-Durance south of France

    Like the sun, a future fusion power plant is to derive energy from fusion of atomic nuclei. The fuel, viz. a hydrogen plasma, has to be confined without wall contact in a magnetic field cage and be heated to ignition temperatures exceeding 100 million degrees. ITER is to produce 500 megawatts of fusion power, this being ten times as much as needed beforehand to heat the plasma.

    About half of this plasma heating will be provided by the neutral-particle heating: Fast hydrogen atoms injected through the magnetic field cage into the plasma transfer their energy to the plasma particles by way of collisions. For this purpose, an ion source produces from hydrogen gas charged hydrogen ions that are accelerated by high voltage and finally re-neutralised so that, as fast hydrogen atoms, they can penetrate into the plasma unhampered by the magnetic field.

    This method enables present-day heating systems, e.g. that for IPP’s ASDEX Upgrade fusion device at Garching, to bring the plasma to a multiple of the sun’s temperature at the click of a button. The ITER large-scale device, however, presents higher requirements: For example, the particle beams have to be much thicker and the individual particles be much faster than hitherto so that they can penetrate the voluminous ITER plasma to a sufficient depth. Two particle beams with cross-sections about the size of an ordinary door are to feed 16.5 megawatts of heating power into the ITER plasma. ITER will thus greatly surpass the particle beams used in today’s fusion devices, which make do with cross-sections about the size of a dinner plate and much lower velocity.

    Therefore, instead of the positively charged ions used hitherto, which cannot be effectively neutralised at high energies, for ITER it is necessary to use negatively charged ions, which are extremely fragile. A high-frequency ion source developed for the purpose at IPP was incorporated in the ITER design. At the end of 2012 IPP was given a contract for further development and adaptions to ITER requirements.

    The ELISE (Extraction from a Large Ion Source Experiment) test rig constitutes a source half as large as that for ITER later. ELISE generates an ion beam with a cross-sectional area of about a square metre. The increased format made it necessary to revise the previous technical solutions for the heating method (see PI 2/2015). ELISE has advanced step by step to new orders of magnitude. “Now we are able to produce the desired 23-ampere particle beam of negatively charged hydrogen ions, stable, homogeneous and lasting 1,000 seconds”, states Professor Dr Ursel Fantz, head of IPP’s ITER Technology and Diagnostics division. “The gas pressure in the source and the quantity of electrons retained also meet ITER’s requirements”. It was only the current density of the ion beam that was not quite attained, this being due to the limited power capability of the high-voltage supply available.

    Where does it go from here?

    Now that ELISE has attained the ion current required by ITER with ordinary hydrogen it is time to tackle the second part of the task and produce ion beams from deuterium, the heavy isotope of hydrogen, albeit not just for 1,000 seconds, but for a whole hour. The system in the original size will be investigated by Italy’s fusion institute, ENEA, in Padua, who will collaborate with IPP. The SPIDER (Source for Production of Ions of Deuterium Extracted from Radio-frequency Plasma) test device was commissioned at Padua in early June. The target data: one-hour pulses with full ITER beam cross-section and 6 megawatts of power in hydrogen and deuterium.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    MPIPP campus

    The Max Planck Institute of Plasma Physics (Max-Planck-Institut für Plasmaphysik, IPP) is a physics institute for the investigation of plasma physics, with the aim of working towards fusion power. The institute also works on surface physics, also with focus on problems of fusion power.

    The IPP is an institute of the Max Planck Society, part of the European Atomic Energy Community, and an associated member of the Helmholtz Association.

    The IPP has two sites: Garching near Munich (founded 1960) and Greifswald (founded 1994), both in Germany.

    It owns several large devices, namely

    the experimental tokamak ASDEX Upgrade (in operation since 1991)
    the experimental stellarator Wendelstein 7-AS (in operation until 2002)
    the experimental stellarator Wendelstein 7-X (awaiting licensing)
    a tandem accelerator

    It also cooperates with the ITER and JET projects.

     
  • richardmitnick 1:40 pm on June 28, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Fusion technology, High-speed ‘electron camera’, , , UED-ultrafast electron diffraction   

    From SLAC: “Atomic Movie of Melting Gold Could Help Design Materials for Future Fusion Reactors” 


    From SLAC Lab

    June 28, 2018

    Press Office Contact:
    Andrew Gordon,
    agordon@slac.stanford.edu,
    (650) 926-2282

    By Manuel Gnida

    1
    A study using a powerful beam of electrons at SLAC has revealed new atomic details of the melting of gold, potentially benefitting the development of fusion power reactors, steel processing plants, spacecraft and other applications. (Greg Stewart/SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory)

    SLAC’s high-speed ‘electron camera’ shows for the first time the coexistence of solid and liquid in laser-heated gold, providing new clues for designing materials that can withstand extreme conditions.

    Researchers at the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory have recorded the most detailed atomic movie of gold melting after being blasted by laser light. The insights they gained into how metals liquefy have potential to aid the development of fusion power reactors, steel processing plants, spacecraft and other applications where materials have to withstand extreme conditions for long periods of time.


    This video explains how researchers at SLAC are using a method known as ultrafast electron diffraction (UED) to develop an atomic-level understanding of how metals melt, which could help them design materials for applications where materials have to withstand extreme conditions, such as nuclear fusion. (Farrin Abbott/Greg Stewart/SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory)

    Nuclear fusion is the process that powers stars like the sun. Scientists want to copy this process on Earth as a relatively clean and safe way of generating virtually unlimited amounts of energy. But to build a fusion reactor, they need materials that can survive being exposed to temperatures of a few hundred millions of degrees Fahrenheit and intense radiation produced in the fusion reaction.

    “Our study is an important step toward better predictions of the effects extreme conditions have on reactor materials, including heavy metals such as gold,” said SLAC postdoctoral researcher Mianzhen Mo, one of the lead authors of a study published today in Science. “The atomic-level description of the melting process will help us make better models of the short- and long-term damage in those materials, such as crack formation and material failure.”

    The study used SLAC’s high-speed electron camera – an instrument for ultrafast electron diffraction (UED) – which is capable of tracking nuclear motions with a shutter speed of about 100 millionths of a billionth of a second, or 100 femtoseconds.

    Melting in Pockets

    The team discovered that the melting started at the surfaces of nanosized grains within the gold sample – regions in which the gold atoms neatly line up in crystals – and at the boundaries between them.

    “This behavior had been predicted in theoretical studies, but we’ve now actually observed it for the first time,” said Siegfried Glenzer, head of SLAC’s High Energy Density Science Division and the study’s principal investigator. “Our method allows us to examine the behavior of any material in extreme environments in atomic detail, which is key to understanding and predicting material properties and could open up new avenues for the design of future materials.”

    2
    This animation shows the results of a recent study at SLAC, in which researchers used a powerful beam of electrons to watch gold melt extremely rapidly after being heated by a laser pulse. The data reveal that the melting starts at the surfaces of nanosized grains and the boundaries between them, leading to the formation of pockets of liquid that are surrounded by solid. This mix evolves over time until only liquid is left. (Farrin Abbott/Greg Stewart/SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory)

    To study the melting process, the researchers focused the laser beam onto a sample of gold crystals and watched how the atomic nuclei in the crystals responded, using the UED instrument’s electron beam as a probe. By stitching together snapshots of the atomic structure taken at various times after the laser hit, they created a stop-motion movie of the structural changes over time.

    “About 7 to 8 trillionths of a second after the laser flash, we saw the solid begin turning into a liquid,” said SLAC postdoctoral researcher Zhijang Chen, one of the study’s lead authors. “But the solid didn’t liquefy everywhere at the same time. Instead, we observed the formation of pockets of liquid surrounded by solid gold. This mix evolved over time until only liquid was left after about a billionth of a second.”

    Superb ‘Electron Vision’

    To get to this level of detail, the researchers needed a special camera like SLAC’s UED instrument, which is able to see the atomic makeup of materials and is fast enough to track extremely rapid motions of atomic nuclei.

    And because the melting process is destructive, another feature of the instrument was also absolutely crucial.

    “In our experiment, the sample ultimately melted and vaporized,” said accelerator physicist Xijie Wang, head of SLAC’s UED initiative. “But even if we were able to cool it down so that it becomes a solid again, it wouldn’t have the exact same starting structure. So, for every frame of the atomic movie we want to collect all the structural information in a single-shot experiment – a single pass of the electron beam through the sample. We were able to do just that because our instrument uses a very energetic electron beam that produces a strong signal.”

    3

    This movie shows the transition of a gold sample from a solid (dotted pattern) to a liquid (ring pattern) after being heated by a laser pulse. It was taken with SLAC’s ultrafast “electron” camera, an instrument for ultrafast electron diffraction (UED), in which a powerful electron beam scatters off the atoms in the sample. This interaction generates the intensity pattern seen in the movie, which captures the first 40 trillionths of a second after the laser flash. (Mianzhen Mo/SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory)

    The research team included scientists from SLAC; DOE’s Los Alamos National Laboratory; the University of British Columbia and the University of Alberta in Canada; and the University of Rostock and the University of Duisburg-Essen in Germany. The work was supported by the DOE Office of Science.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings
    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    SLAC Campus
    SLAC is a multi-program laboratory exploring frontier questions in photon science, astrophysics, particle physics and accelerator research. Located in Menlo Park, California, SLAC is operated by Stanford University for the DOE’s Office of Science.

     
  • richardmitnick 11:04 am on June 27, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Fusion technology, ,   

    From Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics: “Wendelstein 7-X achieves world record” 

    MPIPP bloc

    From Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics

    June 25, 2018
    Isabella Milch

    Wendelstgein 7-X stellarator, built in Greifswald, Germany

    Stellarator record for fusion product / First confirmation for optimisation

    In the past experimentation round Wendelstein 7-X achieved higher temperatures and densities of the plasma, longer pulses and the stellarator world record for the fusion product. Moreover, first confirmation for the optimisation concept on which Wendelstein 7-X is based, was obtained. Wendelstein 7-X at Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics (IPP) in Greifswald, the world’s largest fusion device of the stellarator type, is investigating the suitability of this concept for application in power plants.

    1
    View inside the plasma vessel with graphite tile cladding. Photo: IPP, Jan Michael Hosan

    Unlike in the first experimentation phase 2015/16, the plasma vessel of Wendelstein 7-X has been fitted with interior cladding since September last year (see PI 8/2017). The vessel walls are now covered with graphite tiles, thus allowing higher temperatures and longer plasma discharges. With the so-called divertor it is also possible to control the purity and density of the plasma: The divertor tiles follow the twisted contour of the plasma edge in the form of ten broad strips along the wall of the plasma vessel. In this way, they protect particularly the wall areas onto which the particles escaping from the edge of the plasma ring are made to impinge. Along with impurities, the impinging particles are here neutralised and pumped off.

    “First experience with the new wall elements are highly positive”, states Professor Dr. Thomas Sunn Pedersen. While by the end of the first campaign pulse lengths of six seconds were being attained, plasmas lasting up to 26 seconds are now being produced. A heating energy of up to 75 megajoules could be fed into the plasma, this being 18 times as much as in the first operation phase without divertor. The heating power could also be increased, this being a prerequisite to high plasma density.

    2
    Wendelstein 7-X attained the Stellarator world record for the fusion product. This product of the ion temperature, plasma density and energy confinement time specifies how close one is getting to the reactor values needed to ignite a plasma. Graphic: IPP

    In this way a record value for the fusion product was attained. This product of the ion temperature, plasma density and energy confinement time specifies how close one is getting to the reactor values needed to ignite a plasma. At an ion temperature of about 40 million degrees and a density of 0.8 x 1020 particles per cubic metre Wendelstein 7-X has attained a fusion product affording a good 6 x 1026 degrees x second per cubic metre, the world’s stellarator record. “This is an excellent value for a device of this size, achieved, moreover, under realistic conditions, i.e. at a high temperature of the plasma ions”, says Professor Sunn Pedersen. The energy confinement time attained, this being a measure of the quality of the thermal insulation of the magnetically confined plasma, indicates with an imposing 200 milliseconds that the numerical optimisation on which Wendelstein 7-X is based might work: “This makes us optimistic for our further work.”

    The fact that optimisation is taking effect not only in respect of the thermal insulation is testified to by the now completed evaluation of experimental data from the first experimentation phase from December 2015 to March 2016, which has just been reported in Nature Physics (see below). This shows that also the bootstrap current behaves as expected. This electric current is induced by pressure differences in the plasma and could distort the tailored magnetic field. Particles from the plasma edge would then no longer impinge on the right area of the divertor. The bootstrap current in stellarators should therefore be kept as low as possible. Analysis has now confirmed that this has actually been accomplished in the optimised field geometry. “Thus, already during the first experimentation phase important aspects of the optimisation could be verified”, states first author Dr. Andreas Dinklage. “More exact and systematic evaluation will ensue in further experiments at much higher heating power and higher plasma pressure.”

    Since the end of 2017 Wendelstein 7-X has undergone further extensions: These include new measuring equipment and heating systems. Plasma experiments are to be resumed in July. Major extension is planned as of autumn 2018: The present graphite tiles of the divertor are to be replaced by carbon-reinforced carbon components that are additionally water-cooled. They are to make discharges lasting up to 30 minutes possible, during which it can be checked whether Wendelstein 7-X permanently meets its optimisation objectives as well.

    Background

    The objective of fusion research is to develop a power plant favourable to the climate and environment. Like the sun, it is to derive energy from fusion of atomic nuclei. Because the fusion fire needs temperatures exceeding 100 million degrees to ignite, the fuel, viz. a low-density hydrogen plasma, ought not to come into contact with cold vessel walls. Confined by magnetic fields, it is suspended inside a vacuum chamber with almost no contact.

    The magnetic cage of Wendelstein 7-X is produced by a ring of 50 superconducting magnet coils about 3.5 metres high. Their special shapes are the result of elaborate optimisation calculations. Although Wendelstein 7-X will not produce energy, it hopes to prove that stellarators are suitable for application in power plants.

    Its aim is to achieve for the first time in a stellarator the quality of confinement afforded by competing devices of the tokamak type. In particular, the device is to demonstrate the essential advantage of stellarators, viz. their capability to operate in continuous mode.

    Science paper:
    Magnetic configuration effects on the Wendelstein 7-X stellarator. Nature Physics

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings
    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    MPIPP campus

    The Max Planck Institute of Plasma Physics (Max-Planck-Institut für Plasmaphysik, IPP) is a physics institute for the investigation of plasma physics, with the aim of working towards fusion power. The institute also works on surface physics, also with focus on problems of fusion power.

    The IPP is an institute of the Max Planck Society, part of the European Atomic Energy Community, and an associated member of the Helmholtz Association.

    The IPP has two sites: Garching near Munich (founded 1960) and Greifswald (founded 1994), both in Germany.

    It owns several large devices, namely

    the experimental tokamak ASDEX Upgrade (in operation since 1991)
    the experimental stellarator Wendelstein 7-AS (in operation until 2002)
    the experimental stellarator Wendelstein 7-X (awaiting licensing)
    a tandem accelerator

    It also cooperates with the ITER and JET projects.

     
  • richardmitnick 10:33 am on June 21, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Knighthood in hand, astrophysicist prepares to lead U.S. fusion lab" Steven Cowley, Fusion technology, , , Tokamaks   

    From Science and PPPL: “Knighthood in hand, astrophysicist prepares to lead U.S. fusion lab” Steven Cowley 

    AAAS
    From Science Magazine

    and


    From PPPL

    1
    Steven Cowley, Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory

    Jun. 19, 2018
    Daniel Clery

    It’s been quite a few weeks for Steven Cowley, the British astrophysicist who formerly headed the United Kingdom’s Culham Centre for Fusion Energy (CCFE). Last month, he was named as the new director of the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) in New Jersey, the United States’s premier fusion research lab. Then, last week he received a knighthood from the United Kingdom’s Queen Elizabeth II “for services to science and the development of nuclear fusion.”

    Cowley, or Sir Steven [in the U.K.], is now president of Corpus Christi College at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom. He will take over his PPPL role on 1 July. He has a long track record in fusion research, having served as head of CCFE from 2008 to 2016 and as a staff scientist at PPPL from 1987 to 1993. PPPL is a Department of Energy (DOE)-funded national laboratory with a staff of more than 500 and an annual budget of $100 million. But in 2016, the lab took a knock when its main facility, the National Spherical Torus Experiment (NSTX), developed a series of disabling faults shortly after a $94 million upgrade.

    PPPL NSTX -U at Princeton Plasma Physics Lab, Princeton, NJ,USA

    PPPL’s then-director, Stewart Prager, resigned soon after. DOE is now considering a recovery plan for the NSTX, which is expected to cost tens of millions of dollars.

    During Cowley’s tenure at CCFE, that lab also started an upgrade of its rival to the NSTX, the Mega Amp Spherical Tokamak (MAST).

    Mega Ampere Spherical Tokamak. Credit Culham Centre for Fusion Energy

    Spherical tokamaks are a variation on the traditional doughnut-shaped tokamak design whose ultimate expression, the giant ITER device in France, is now under construction.

    ITER Tokamak in Saint-Paul-lès-Durance, which is in southern France

    The plan is for ITER to demonstrate a burning plasma, one where the fusion reactions themselves generate all or most of the heat required to sustain the burn. But once that is done, researchers hope spherical tokamaks, or some other variation, will provide a route to commercial reactors that are smaller, simpler, and cheaper than ITER. By upgrading the NSTX and the MAST, the labs hope to show that this type of compact reactor can achieve the same sort of performance as CCFE’s Joint European Torus (JET), the world’s largest tokamak right now and the record holder on fusion performance.

    The Joint European Torus tokamak generator based at the CCFE.

    “We have to push down the cost and scale of fusion reactors,” Cowley told ScienceInsider shortly after the 16 May announcement of his PPPL appointment. “I fully support ITER because we have to do a burning plasma. But commercial reactors will need to be smaller and cheaper. A JET-sized machine would be so much more appealing. MAST and NSTX will be a dynamic team going forward.”

    Despite the good food and well-stocked cellar on the Corpus Christi campus, Cowley says he is eager to return to the cut and thrust of laboratory life. “It’s too much fun. I was really feeling I missed the everyday discussions about physics and what was going on. I’m a fusion nut. We’re going to crack it one of these days and I want to be part of it,” he says. And PPPL, he adds, will be central to that effort. “Princeton is the place where much of what we know now was figured out. It’s a legendary lab in plasma physics. It’ll be fun to go and work with these people.”

    His first job there will be to get the NSTX back on track. “I’m confident we can solve this problem. They’ve understood how the faults arose and they’ve understood how to fix them. If the money comes through, we will get NSTX back online,” he says.

    Cowley says the key goal for spherical tokamaks and other variants is to reduce turbulent transport, the process that allows swirling plasma to move heat from the core of the device to the edge where it can escape. If designers can figure out how to retain the heat more effectively, the reactor doesn’t need to be so large. Spherical tokamaks do this by seeking to hold the plasma in the center of the device, close to the central column.

    Another way to solve the heat problem is to increase a device’s magnetic field strength overall by using superconducting magnets, an approach being followed by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge.

    MIT SPARC fusion reactor tokamak

    “That can push the scale down,” Cowley says, “but high field is not enough on its own. If there is a disruption [a sudden loss of confinement], that can be very damaging” to the machine.

    Cowley thinks future machines may take elements from more then one type of reactor—including stellarators, a reactor type that has a doughnut shape that is similar to tokamaks, but with bizarrely twisted magnets that can confine current without needing the flow of current around the loop that tokamaks rely on. “There are beautiful ideas coming from the stellarators community,” he says. Wendelstein 7-X, a “phenomenal” new stellarator in Germany, has been a major driver, he says.

    KIT Wendelstein 7-X, built in Greifswald, Germany

    What has changed dramatically in the past couple of decades has been “the ability to calculate what’s going on,” Cowley says. Advances in both theory and computing power means “we have all these new ideas and can explore the spaces in silicon. The field is driven more by science and less by intuition,” he says. “It’s quite a revolution.”

    Meanwhile, ITER construction trundles on despite numerous delays and price hikes. Cowley acknowledges that things have improved since the current director, Bernard Bigot, took over. “Bigot is an extremely good leader. He’s steadied the ship; he makes decisions,” Cowley says. “And they’ve got their team. It took time to find the right set of people.” Building ITER is “an amazingly tough thing to do. Assembly [of the tokamak] will be quite challenging and hard to stay on schedule. But when it is finished it will be a technological wonder.”

    But perhaps the biggest obstacle to progress is a shortage of funding, which has been stagnant in the United States for many years. President Donald Trump has requested $340 million for DOE’s fusion research programs in the 2019 fiscal year that begins 1 October, a 36% cut from current levels, but Congress is unlikely to approve that cut. “There’s real hope [the 2019 budget] will move up, but it’s not energizing the field,” Cowley says. “If we can get NSTX to produce spectacular physics results—on a par with the performance of JET—we will energize the community with science [Lotsa luck, pal].”

    See the full article here .


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    PPPL campus

    Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory is a U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory managed by Princeton University. PPPL, on Princeton University’s Forrestal Campus in Plainsboro, N.J., is devoted to creating new knowledge about the physics of plasmas — ultra-hot, charged gases — and to developing practical solutions for the creation of fusion energy. Results of PPPL research have ranged from a portable nuclear materials detector for anti-terrorist use to universally employed computer codes for analyzing and predicting the outcome of fusion experiments. The Laboratory is managed by the University for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science, which is the largest single supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit science.energy.gov.

     
  • richardmitnick 3:22 pm on June 14, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Fusion technology, , NIF achieves record double fusion yield,   

    From NIF at LLNL: “NIF achieves record double fusion yield” 

    From National Ignition Facility at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

    LLNL/NIF

    June 13, 2018
    Breanna Bishop
    bishop33@llnl.gov
    925-423-9802

    1
    This rendering of the inside of NIF’s target chamber shows the target positioner moving into place. Pulses from NIF’s high-powered lasers race through the facility at the speed of light and arrive at the center of the target chamber within a few trillionths of a second of each other, aligned to the accuracy of the diameter of a human hair. No image credit.

    An experimental campaign conducted at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s (LLNL) National Ignition Facility (NIF) has achieved a total fusion neutron yield of 1.9e16 (1.9×1016) and 54 KJ of fusion energy output — double the previous record. Researchers in LLNL’s Inertial Confinement Fusion Program (ICF) detail the results in a paper that will be published this week in Physical Review Letters.

    NIF is the world’s largest and most energetic laser, designed to perform experimental studies of fusion ignition and thermonuclear burn, the phenomenon that powers the sun, stars and modern nuclear weapons. As a key component of the National Nuclear Security Administration’s Stockpile Stewardship Program, experiments fielded on NIF enable researchers to gain fundamental understanding of extreme temperatures, pressures and densities — knowledge that helps ensure the current and future nuclear stockpile is safe and reliable.

    The record-breaking experiments utilized a diamond capsule — a layer of ultra-thin high-density carbon containing the deuterium-tritium (DT) fusion fuel — seated inside a depleted uranium hohlraum. This approach allowed the researchers to greatly improve their control over the symmetry of the X-rays that drive the capsule, producing “rounder” and more symmetric implosions.

    “These results represent significant progress,” said Sebastien Le Pape, lead author of the paper and lead experimenter for the campaign. “By controlling the uniformity of the implosion, we’ve improved the compression of the hot spot leading to unprecedented hot spot pressure and areal density.”

    In addition to increased yield, the experiments produced other critical results. For the first time, the hot spot pressure topped out at approximately 360 Gbar (360 billion atmospheres) — exceeding the pressure at the center of the sun. Further, these record yields mean there was a record addition of energy to the hot spot due to fusion alpha particles. By depositing their energy rather than escaping, the alpha particles further heat the fuel, increasing the rate of fusion reactions and thus producing more alpha particles. This leads to yield amplification, which in these experiments was almost a factor of 3. As the implosions are further improved, this yield amplification could eventually lead to fusion ignition.

    “Because of the extreme levels of compression that these implosions have achieved, we are now at the threshold of achieving a ‘burning plasma’ state, where alpha-particle deposition in the fusing plasma is the dominant source of heating in that plasma,” said Omar Hurricane, chief scientist for the ICF Program.

    “Each experiment we do unlocks important data that informs how we design and field future experiments,” added NIF Director Mark Herrmann. “These results represent a significant advancement in our knowledge and will enable our next steps in tackling the difficult scientific challenge of ignition.”

    In addition, the experiments achieved conditions that now enable access to a range of nuclear and astrophysical regimes. The density, temperature and pressure of the hot spot are the closest to conditions in the sun, and the neutron density is now applicable for nucleosynthesis studies, which have traditionally needed an intense, laboratory-based neutron source. The conditions also are relevant for studying fundamental nuclear weapons physics.

    Additional experiments have shown similar levels of performance, confirming the importance of this approach. Looking ahead, LLNL plans to advance its experiments by exploring increased capsule size, energy delivery on NIF and improvements to features such as the capsule fill tube.

    “Every time we make progress, we can better understand what challenges lie ahead,” said Laura Berzak Hopkins, lead designer for the experiments. “Now, we’re in an exciting place where we understand our system a lot better than before, and we’ve been able to take that understanding and translate it into increased performance. I’m very excited about the progress we’ve been able to make, and where we can go next.”

    In addition to Le Pape, Hurricane and Berzak Hopkins, co-authors include Laurent Divol, Arthur Pak, Eduard Dewald, Suhas Bhandarkar, Laura Benedetti, Thomas Bunn, Juergen Biener, Daniel Casey, David Fittinghoff, Clement Goyon, Steven Haan, Robert Hatarik, Darwin Ho, Nobuhiko Izumi, Shahab Khan, Tammy Ma, Andrew Mackinnon, Andrew MacPhee, Brian MacGowan, Nathan Meezan, Jose Milovich, Marius Millot, Pierre Michel, Sabrina Nagel, Abbas Nikroo, Prav Patel, Joseph Ralph, Janes Ross, David Strozzi, Michael Stadermann, Charles Yeamans, Christopher Weber and Deborah Callahan of LLNL; Jay Crippen Martin Havre, Javier Jaquez and Neal Rice of General Atomics; Dana Edgell of the University of Rochester’s Laboratory for Laser Energetics; Maria Gatu-Johnson of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Plasma Science and Fusion Center; George Kyrala and Petr Volegov of Los Alamos National Laboratory; and Christoph Wild of Diamond Materials Gmbh.

    See the full article here .


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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    The National Ignition Facility, or NIF, is a large laser-based inertial confinement fusion (ICF) research device, located at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, California. NIF uses lasers to heat and compress a small amount of hydrogen fuel with the goal of inducing nuclear fusion reactions. NIF’s mission is to achieve fusion ignition with high energy gain, and to support nuclear weapon maintenance and design by studying the behavior of matter under the conditions found within nuclear weapons. NIF is the largest and most energetic ICF device built to date, and the largest laser in the world.

    Construction on the NIF began in 1997 but management problems and technical delays slowed progress into the early 2000s. Progress after 2000 was smoother, but compared to initial estimates, NIF was completed five years behind schedule and was almost four times more expensive than originally budgeted. Construction was certified complete on 31 March 2009 by the U.S. Department of Energy, and a dedication ceremony took place on 29 May 2009. The first large-scale laser target experiments were performed in June 2009 and the first “integrated ignition experiments” (which tested the laser’s power) were declared completed in October 2010.

    Bringing the system to its full potential was a lengthy process that was carried out from 2009 to 2012. During this period a number of experiments were worked into the process under the National Ignition Campaign, with the goal of reaching ignition just after the laser reached full power, some time in the second half of 2012. The Campaign officially ended in September 2012, at about 1⁄10 the conditions needed for ignition. Experiments since then have pushed this closer to 1⁄3, but considerable theoretical and practical work is required if the system is ever to reach ignition. Since 2012, NIF has been used primarily for materials science and weapons research.

    National Igniton Facility- NIF at LLNL

    The preamplifiers of the National Ignition Facility are the first step in increasing the energy of laser beams as they make their way toward the target chamber

    Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) is an American federal research facility in Livermore, California, United States, founded by the University of California, Berkeley in 1952. A Federally Funded Research and Development Center (FFRDC), it is primarily funded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and managed and operated by Lawrence Livermore National Security, LLC (LLNS), a partnership of the University of California, Bechtel, BWX Technologies, AECOM, and Battelle Memorial Institute in affiliation with the Texas A&M University System. In 2012, the laboratory had the synthetic chemical element livermorium named after it.

    LLNL is self-described as “a premier research and development institution for science and technology applied to national security.”[1] Its principal responsibility is ensuring the safety, security and reliability of the nation’s nuclear weapons through the application of advanced science, engineering and technology. The Laboratory also applies its special expertise and multidisciplinary capabilities to preventing the proliferation and use of weapons of mass destruction, bolstering homeland security and solving other nationally important problems, including energy and environmental security, basic science and economic competitiveness.

    Operated by Lawrence Livermore National Security, LLC, for the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration

    DOE Seal
    NNSA

     
  • richardmitnick 11:06 am on June 12, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Fusion technology, Korean Superconducting Tokamak Advanced Research (KSTAR), Magnetic islands- bubble-like structures form in fusion plasmas, ,   

    From PPPL: “New model sheds light on key physics of magnetic islands that halt fusion reactions” 


    From PPPL

    June 6, 2018
    John Greenwald

    1
    The Korean Superconducting Tokamak Advanced Research facility. (Photo courtesy of the Korean National Fusion Research Institute.

    Magnetic islands, bubble-like structures that form in fusion plasmas, can grow and disrupt the plasmas and damage the doughnut-shaped tokamak facilities that house fusion reactions. Recent research at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) has used large-scale computer simulations to produce a new model that could be key to understanding how the islands interact with the surrounding plasma as they grow and lead to disruptions.

    The findings, which overturn long-held assumptions of the structure and impact of magnetic islands, are from simulations led by visiting physicist Jae-Min Kwon. Kwon, on a year-long sabbatical from the Korean Superconducting Tokamak Advanced Research (KSTAR) facility, worked with physicists at PPPL to model the detailed and surprising experimental observations recently made on KSTAR.

    Researchers intrigued

    “The experiments intrigued many KSTAR researchers including me,” said Kwon, first author of the new theoretical paper selected as an Editor’s Pick in the journal Physics of Plasmas. “I wanted to understand the physics behind the sustained plasma confinement that we observed,” he said. “Previous theoretical models assumed that the magnetic islands simply degraded the confinement instead of sustaining it. However, at KSTAR, we didn’t have the proper numerical codes needed to perform such studies, or enough computer resources to run them.”

    The situation turned Kwon’s thoughts to PPPL, where he has interacted over the years with physicists who work on the powerful XGC numerical code that the Laboratory developed. “Since I knew that the code had the capabilities that I needed to study the problem, I decided to spend my sabbatical at PPPL,” he said.

    Kwon arrived in 2017 and worked closely with C.S. Chang, a principal research physicist at PPPL and leader of the XGC team, and PPPL physicists Seung-Ho Ku, and Robert Hager. The researchers modeled magnetic islands using plasma conditions from the KSTAR experiments. The structure of the islands proved markedly different from standard assumptions, as did their impact on plasma flow, turbulence, and plasma confinement during fusion experiments.

    Fusion, the power that drives the sun and stars, is the fusing of light atomic elements in the form of plasma — the hot, charged state of matter composed of free electrons and atomic nuclei — that generates massive amounts of energy. Scientists are seeking to replicate fusion on Earth for a virtually inexhaustible supply of power to generate electricity.

    Long-absent understanding

    “Understanding how islands interact with plasma flow and turbulence has been absent until now,” Chang said. “Because of the lack of detailed calculations on the interaction of islands with complicated particle motions and plasma turbulence, the estimate of the confinement of plasma around the islands and their growth has been based on simple models and not well understood.”

    The simulations found the plasma profile inside the islands not to be constant, as previously thought, and to have a radial structure. The findings showed that turbulence can penetrate into islands and that the plasma flow across them can be strongly sheared so that it moves in opposite directions. As a result, plasma confinement can be maintained while the islands grow.

    These surprising findings contradicted past models and agreed with the experimental observations made on KSTAR. “The study exhibits the power of supercomputing on problems that could not be studied otherwise,” Chang said. “These findings could lay new groundwork for understanding the physics of plasma disruption, which is one of the most dangerous events a tokamak reactor could encounter.”

    Millions of processor hours

    Computing the new model required 6.2 million processor-core hours on the Cori supercomputer at the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC), a DOE Office of Science user facility at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. The processing time equaled thousands of years on a desktop computer. “What I wanted was quantitatively accurate results that could be directly compared with the KSTAR data,” Kwon said. “Fortunately, I could access enough resources on NERSC to achieve that goal through the allocation given to the XGC program. I am grateful for this opportunity.”

    Going forward, a larger scale computer could allow the XGC code to start from the spontaneous formation of the magnetic islands and show how they grow, in self-consistent interaction, with the sheared plasma flow and plasma turbulence. The results could lead to a way to prevent disastrous disruptions in fusion reactors.

    Coauthors of the Physics of Plasmas paper together with the PPPL researchers were Minjun Choi, Hyungho Lee, and Hyunseok Kim of the Korean National Fusion Research Institute (NFRI), and Eisung Yoon of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Support for this work comes from the DOE Office of Science and NFRI.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings
    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition


    PPPL campus

    Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory is a U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory managed by Princeton University. PPPL, on Princeton University’s Forrestal Campus in Plainsboro, N.J., is devoted to creating new knowledge about the physics of plasmas — ultra-hot, charged gases — and to developing practical solutions for the creation of fusion energy. Results of PPPL research have ranged from a portable nuclear materials detector for anti-terrorist use to universally employed computer codes for analyzing and predicting the outcome of fusion experiments. The Laboratory is managed by the University for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science, which is the largest single supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit science.energy.gov.

     
  • richardmitnick 1:12 pm on March 11, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Eni, Fusion technology,   

    From MIT: “A new era in fusion research at MIT” 

    MIT News

    MIT Widget

    MIT News

    March 9, 2018
    Francesca McCaffrey | MIT Energy Initiative

    MIT Energy Initiative founding member Eni announces support for key research through MIT Laboratory for Innovation in Fusion Technologies.

    1

    A new chapter is beginning for fusion energy research at MIT.

    This week the Italian energy company Eni, a founding member of the MIT Energy Initiative (MITEI), announced it has reached an agreement with MIT to fund fusion research projects run out of the MIT Plasma Science and Fusion Center (PSFC)’s newly created Laboratory for Innovation in Fusion Technologies (LIFT). The expected investment in these research projects will amount to about $2 million over the following years.

    This is part of a broader engagement with fusion research and the Institute as a whole: Eni also announced a commitment of $50 million to a new private company with roots at MIT, Commonwealth Fusion Systems (CFS), which aims to make affordable, scalable fusion power a reality.

    “This support of LIFT is a continuation of Eni’s commitment to meeting growing global energy demand while tackling the challenge of climate change through its research portfolio at MIT,” says Robert C. Armstrong, MITEI’s director and the Chevron Professor of Chemical Engineering at MIT. “Fusion is unique in that it is a zero-carbon, dispatchable, baseload technology, with a limitless supply of fuel, no risk of runaway reaction, and no generation of long-term waste. It also produces thermal energy, so it can be used for heat as well as power.”

    Still, there is much more to do along the way to perfecting the design and economics of compact fusion power plants. Eni will fund research projects at LIFT that are a continuation of this research and focus on fusion-specific solutions. “We are thrilled at PSFC to have these projects funded by Eni, who has made a clear commitment to developing fusion energy,” says Dennis Whyte, the director of PSFC and the Hitachi America Professor of Engineering at MIT. “LIFT will focus on cutting-edge technology advancements for fusion, and will significantly engage our MIT students who are so adept at innovation.”

    Tackling fusion’s challenges

    The inside of a fusion device is an extreme environment. The creation of fusion energy requires the smashing together of light elements, such as hydrogen, to form heavier elements such as helium, a process that releases immense amounts of energy. The temperature at which this process takes place is too hot for solid materials, necessitating the use of magnets to hold the hot plasma in place.

    One of the projects PSFC and Eni intend to carry out will study the effects of high magnetic fields on molten salt fluid dynamics. One of the key elements of the fusion pilot plant currently being studied at LIFT is the liquid immersion blanket, essentially a flowing pool of molten salt that completely surrounds the fusion energy core. The purpose of this blanket is threefold: to convert the kinetic energy of fusion neutrons to heat for eventual electricity production; to produce tritium — a main component of the fusion fuel; and to prevent the neutrons from reaching other parts of the machine and causing material damage.

    It’s critical for researchers to be able to predict how the molten salt in such an immersion blanket would move when subjected to high magnetic fields such as those found within a fusion plant. As such, the researchers and their respective teams plan to study the effects of these magnetohydrodynamic forces on the salt’s fluid dynamics.

    A history of innovation

    During the 23 years MIT’s Alcator C-Mod tokamak fusion experiment was in operation, it repeatedly advanced records for plasma pressure in a magnetic confinement device. Its compact, high-magnetic-field fusion design confined superheated plasma in a small donut-shaped chamber.

    “The key to this success was the innovations pursued more than 20 years ago at PSFC in developing copper magnets that could access fields well in excess of other fusion experiments. The coupling between innovative technology development and advancing fusion science is in the DNA of the Plasma Science and Fusion Center,” says PSFC Deputy Director Martin Greenwald.

    In its final run in 2016, Alcator C-Mod set a new world record for plasma pressure, the key ingredient to producing net energy from fusion. Since then, PSFC researchers have used data from these decades of C-Mod experiments to continue to advance fusion research. Just last year, they used C-Mod data to create a new method of heating fusion plasmas in tokamaks which could result in the heating of ions to energies an order of magnitude greater than previously reached.

    A commitment to low-carbon energy

    MITEI’s mission is to advance low-carbon and no-carbon emissions solutions to efficiently meet growing global energy needs. Critical to this mission are collaborations between academia, industry, and government — connections MITEI helps to develop in its role as MIT’s hub for multidisciplinary energy research, education, and outreach.

    Eni is an inaugural, founding member of the MIT Energy Initiative, and it was through their engagement with MITEI that they became aware of the fusion technology commercialization being pursued by CFS and its immense potential for revolutionizing the energy system. It was through these discussions, as well, that Eni investors learned of the high-potential fusion research projects taking place through LIFT at MIT, spurring them to support the future of fusion at the Institute itself.

    Eni CEO Claudio Descalzi said, “Today is a very important day for us. Thanks to this agreement, Eni takes a significant step forward toward the development of alternative energy sources with an ever lower environmental impact. Fusion is the true energy source of the future, as it is completely sustainable, does not release emissions or waste, and is potentially inexhaustible. It is a goal that we are determined to reach quickly.” He added, “We are pleased and excited to pursue such a challenging goal with a collaborator like MIT, with unparalleled experience in the field and a long-standing and fruitful alliance with Eni.”

    These fusion projects are the latest in a line of MIT-Eni collaborations on low- and no-carbon energy projects. One of the earliest of these was the Eni-MIT Solar Frontiers Center, established in 2010 at MIT. Through its mission to develop competitive solar technologies, the center’s research has yielded the thinnest, lightest solar cells ever produced, effectively able to turn any surface, from fabric to paper, into a functioning solar cell. The researchers at the center have also developed new, luminescent materials that could allow windows to efficiently collect solar power.

    Other fruits of MIT-Eni collaborations include research into carbon capture systems to be installed in cars, wearable technologies to improve workplace safety, energy storage, and the conversion of carbon dioxide into fuel.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    MIT Seal

    The mission of MIT is to advance knowledge and educate students in science, technology, and other areas of scholarship that will best serve the nation and the world in the twenty-first century. We seek to develop in each member of the MIT community the ability and passion to work wisely, creatively, and effectively for the betterment of humankind.

    MIT Campus

     
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