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  • richardmitnick 8:12 pm on March 18, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , Tokamak Technology   

    From PPPL: “PPPL extends system for suppressing instabilities to long-pulse experiments on KSTAR” 

    March 18, 2014
    John Greenwald

    PPPL collaborations have been instrumental in developing a system to suppress instabilities that could degrade the performance of a fusion plasma. PPPL has built and installed such a system on the DIII-D tokamak that General Atomics operates for the U.S. Department of Energy in San Diego and on the Korea Superconducting Tokamak Advanced Research (KSTAR) facility in South Korea — and now is revising the KSTAR design to operate during extended plasma experiments. Suppressing instabilities will be vital for future fusion facilities such as ITER, the huge international project under construction in France.

    controller
    A look into the microwave launcher showing the steering mirrors that guide the beam into the plasma (Photo by PPPL)

    The system developed on DIII-D and then installed on KSTAR aims high-power microwave beams at instabilities called islands and generates electrical current that eliminates the islands. The process links software-controlled mirrors to detection equipment, creating a system that can respond to instabilities and suppress them within milliseconds. “It works like a scalpel that removes the island,” said PPPL physicist Raffi Nazikian, the head of the Laboratory’s collaboration with DIII-D.

    Revising the unit on KSTAR calls for adding a water-cooling system to keep the mirrors that direct the high-power microwaves into the plasma from overheating. KSTAR’s superconducting magnets can confine the plasma for up to 300 seconds during long-pulse experiments that reach temperatures far hotter than the 15-million degree Celsius core of the sun. “Once you get beyond 10 seconds you have to remove the heat as you put it in,” said PPPL engineer Robert Ellis, who designed the copper and copper-and-steel mirrors.

    Ellis was part of a team of PPPL physicists and engineers who worked closely with their counterparts at General Atomics to develop the original system on DIII-D. PPPL Physicist Egemen Kolemen, an expert in plasma control, created much of the software that automatically steers the mirrors and directs the microwave beams to their target. PPPL engineer Alexander Nagy also shared responsibility for the system, providing onsite support in San Diego.

    The microwave beams not only remove instabilities, but enable researchers to mimic the way that the alpha particles produced by fusion reactions will heat the plasma in ITER. While current heating methods typically heat the ions in plasma, these microwave beams act on the electrons instead. This process parallels what will happen in ITER. “By putting microwave power into the electrons,” Nazikian said, “we can experimentally simulate and study how a fusion plasma will be heated in ITER.”

    The revised KSTAR unit will extend such research to long-pulse plasma experiments when work on the water-cooled mirrors is completed later this year.

    See the full article here.

    Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory is a U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory managed by Princeton University.


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  • richardmitnick 10:15 am on March 3, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , Tokamak Technology   

    From PPPL via DOE Pulse: “Celebrating the 20th anniversary of the tritium shot heard around the world” 

    DOE Pulse

    March 3, 2014

    No Writer Credit

    Tensions rose in the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) as the seconds counted down. At stake was the first crucial test of a high-powered mixture of fuel for producing fusion energy. As the control-room clock reached “zero,” a flash of light on a closed-circuit television monitor marked a historic achievement: A world-record burst of more than 3 million watts of fusion energy — enough to momentarily light some 3,000 homes — fueled by the new high-powered mixture. The time was 11:08 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 9, 1993.

    “There was a tremendous amount of cheering and clapping,” recalled PPPL physicist Rich Hawryluk, who headed the Tokamak Fusion Test Reactor (TFTR), the huge magnetic fusion facility — or tokamak — that produced the historic power. “People had been on pins and needles for a long time and finally it all came together.” It did so again the very next day when TFTR shattered the mark by creating more than six million watts of fusion energy.

    pppl tokamak
    PPPL Tokamak

    The achievements generated headlines around the world and laid the foundation for the development of fusion energy in facilities such as ITER, the vast international experiment being built in France to demonstrate the feasibility of fusion power. The results delivered “important scientific confirmation of the path we are taking toward ITER,” said physicist Ed Synakowski, a PPPL diagnostics expert during the experiments and now associate director of the Office of Science for Fusion Energy Sciences at DOE. “I felt an important shift in the understanding of fusion’s likely reality with those experiments.”

    The breakthroughs proved the practicality of combining equal amounts of the hydrogen isotopes deuterium and its radioactive cousin tritium — the same combination that will be used in ITER and future fusion power plants — to form the superhot, charged plasma gas that fuels fusion reactions. The deuterium-tritium (D-T) mix produced some 150 times more power than a reaction fueled solely by deuterium, long the stand-alone ingredient in tokamak experiments, or “shots.”

    “This was the first test with equal parts D-T and it was technically quite challenging,” said Michael Zarnstorff, a task-force leader during the experiments and now deputy director for research at PPPL. “What we did marked a huge advance in integrating tritium into fusion facilities.”

    Gained insights included precise measurement of the confinement and loss of alpha particles that fusion reactions release along with energetic neutrons. Good confinement of the alpha particles is critically important since they are to serve as the primary means of heating the plasma in ITER, and thereby producing a self-sustaining fusion reaction, or “burning plasma.”

    Exciting journey

    The historic shots capped years of intense preparation for tritium operations, which ran until TFTR was decommissioned in 1997 after setting more records and producing reams of new knowledge. “The journey to tritium was at least as exciting as the first experiments,” said former PPPL Director Ronald Davidson, who led the Laboratory during the tritium years. “It was an enormous technical undertaking and one of my greatest elements of pride in the PPPL staff was that the preparations were so good and so thorough that the tritium shots were successful early on in the D-T campaign.”

    The preparations mobilized physicists, engineers and staffers throughout the Laboratory. “The absolute top priority was to demonstrate that one could carry out the tritium experiments safely,” said former Deputy Director Dale Meade. “Everyone focused on this mission as we went through a step-by-step construction and checkout of the tritium systems with rigorous adherence to procedures and strong oversight by DOE.”

    Leaders of this effort included Jerry Levine, now head of the Environment, Safety, Health & Security Department at PPPL, and John DeLooper, who heads the Best Practices and Outreach Department. Levine’s team launched an environmental assessment under the National Environmental Policy Act in 1989 and received DOE and state approval in 1992. “The purpose was to show that there would be no significant environmental impact as a result of tritium operations,” Levine noted. DeLooper’s team double-checked everything from operator training to preparations for storing and moving the tritium gas, which subsequently arrived in stainless steel containers from the Savannah River National Laboratory in South Carolina.

    In the towering TFTR test cell, engineers readied the three-story high, 695-ton tokamak to operate with tritium. Key tasks included adding more shielding, checking all major systems against possible failures and ensuring that every diagnostic device worked. “The major challenge was to bring everything on line so that failures didn’t happen,” said Mike Williams, the head of engineering at PPPL and also deputy head of TFTR at the time.

    Yet nothing could be certain until the experiment began. “The whole world was going to show up and we had lots of opportunity to fall on our faces,” said engineer Tim Stevenson, who headed the neutral beam operations that heated the plasma to temperatures of more than 100 million degrees centigrade during the shots. “All the instruments were tuned up,” Stevenson said, “but we still had to play the symphony.”

    Keeping the local community informed was another high-priority. PPPL leaders held open houses, met with local executives and government officials and conducted two public hearings before the arrival of tritium. Attendees at one hearing included a local college class that arrived at the urging of its professor.

    Scientists from around the world

    By the day of December 9, press coverage and Laboratory outreach had made PPPL a focus of attention. “Scientists from around the world flew in to witness the experiment,” recalled Rich Hawryluk. More than 100 local visitors flocked to the PPPL auditorium, where a closed-circuit TV feed displayed the control room and Ron Davidson and Dale Meade briefed the audience on unfolding developments. PPPL staffers and their families crowded around the viewing area that overlooked the control room.

    Reporters from several major newspapers covered the event. Also there was Mark Levenson, a reporter from New Jersey public TV station NJN whom the Lab hired to produce a video that subsequently received worldwide exposure.

    The source of all this excitement was surprisingly small: Just six-millionths of a gram of tritium was consumed that night in the shot that made global news. “Such tiny amounts generate huge energy because of the formula E = mc2” explained Charles Gentile, the head of tritium systems at PPPL. The celebrated Einstein equation states that the amount of energy in a body equals the mass of that body times the speed of light squared — an enormous number since light travels at 186,000 miles per second.

    The media seemed as eager as the scientists to watch the famed formula work. “The press people were enormously excited,” said now-retired physicist Ken Young, who headed the PPPL diagnostics department and led efforts to measure the confinement and loss of alpha particles during the experiments. “These reporters were seeing science as it happens and kept waiting for the shot.”

    Also anxiously waiting were more than 100 scientists, engineers and invited guests inside the control room, which normally held about 40 people. All sported red passes that the Laboratory gave to PPPL staffers and guests from DOE and institutions that collaborated on TFTR. “Everybody who could be in there was in there,” recalled Forrest Jobes, a now-retired physicist who kept those in the rear of the L-shaped room abreast of what was happening.

    Calling the shots

    Up front, physicist Jim Strachan was too intent on his job to be caught up in the exuberance. His task was literally to call the shots — to decide how much heating power to use, for example, and when to start the countdown. “Everyone in the group was out to get the most D-T power from reproducible shots,” the now-retired Strachan recalled. “I felt a lot of responsibility and didn’t want to foul up.”

    All eyes followed a closed-circuit TV monitor that displayed a neutron-sensitive scintillator screen in the TFTR test cell that glowed when struck by the neutrons that a D-T shot produced. Artfully covering this test-cell screen was a cardboard poster — designed by PPPL graphic artist Gregory Czechowicz at the behest of Dale Meade — with holes cut into the shape of a light bulb and letters spelling “Fusion Power.” Engineer George Renda designed the scintillator itself. A flash of light from the bulb and the letters in the 3-foot-by-3-foot poster that covered the screen signaled a successful shot. “We came to really count on that image,” said Ed Synakowski. “No need to wait for the computer system to process the data.”

    But there still was plenty of waiting while a series of hardware glitches dragged out the schedule. “Many people in the audience thought we were doing this intentionally to increase the suspense,” Meade recalled.

    By 11 p.m. the problems were solved — setting the stage for the record-breaking shot at 11:08 signaled by the brightly lit light bulb and “Fusion Power” sign on the TV monitor. The control room erupted in jubilation over the shot, which produced 3.8 million watts of power. The excitement reached even the normally staid control-room log, where an operator noted the historic event with the exclamation, “EEYAH”!

    On that high note the experiments ended and the control room opened for press interviews. NJN reporter Levenson returned to his studio to assemble a video news release that he uploaded to a satellite for worldwide distribution, sending the piece off at about 4 a.m. Key parts of the footage — including the control-room jubilation — were shown on nationwide newscasts the following evening.
    Looking back at these events, Hawryluk reflected on the sense of excitement, anticipation and relief that came with them. “We had worked so hard to finally get to that stage and we had done it,” he said. “That night on December 9 established a research capability that has enabled us to pursue a whole host of opportunities to advance the development of fusion energy.”

    See the full article here.

    DOE Pulse highlights work being done at the Department of Energy’s national laboratories. DOE’s laboratories house world-class facilities where more than 30,000 scientists and engineers perform cutting-edge research spanning DOE’s science, energy, National security and environmental quality missions. DOE Pulse is distributed twice each month.

    Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory is a U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory managed by Princeton University.


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  • richardmitnick 4:45 pm on November 25, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , Tokamak Technology   

    From PPPL- “Multinational achievement: PPPL collaborates on record fusion plasma in tokamak in China” 

    November 25, 2013
    John Greenwald

    A multinational team led by Chinese researchers in collaboration with U.S. and European partners has successfully demonstrated a novel technique for suppressing instabilities that can cut short the life of controlled fusion reactions. The team, headed by researchers at the Institute of Plasma Physics in the Chinese Academy of Sciences (ASIPP), combined the new technique with a method that the U.S. Department of Energy’s Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) has developed for protecting the walls that surround the hot, charged plasma gas that fuels fusion reactions.

    tok
    Interior view of EAST tokamak(Photo by Institute of Plasma Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences )

    The record-setting results of the tests, conducted on the Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) in Hefei, China, could mark a key step in the worldwide effort to develop fusion as a clean and abundant source of energy for generating electricity. “This is a very good example of multinational collaboration on EAST,” said ASIPP Director Jiangang Li. “I very much appreciate the effort of our collaborators.”

    First reporting the results was a paper published online in the November issue of the journal Nature Physics. U.S co-authors included PPPL physicists Jon Menard and Rajesh Maingi, who headed the wall-conditioning effort, and General Atomics physicist Gary Jackson, a plasma-control expert who helped draft the paper.

    The findings could hold particular promise for developers of future fusion facilities such as ITER, the international experiment under construction in France. Controlling instabilities that erupt at the edge of the plasma will be crucial to the success of the huge donut-shaped ITER tokamak, which is designed to demonstrate the feasibility of fusion power.

    The EAST experiments set a record for the duration of what is called an H-mode, or high-confinement plasma — the type that will be employed in ITER and other future tokamaks. To achieve this duration, the EAST team beamed what are known as “lower hybrid wave current drive” microwaves into the plasma. The antenna-launched beams reshaped the magnetic field lines confining the plasma and suppressed instabilities at the edge of the gas near the interior walls of the tokamak. Controlling these fast-growing instabilities, called “edge localized modes” (ELMs), produced a record life span of more than 30 seconds for the H-mode plasma.

    These results suggested a potent new method for suppressing ELMS to create an extended, or long-pulse, plasma. Many methods already exist. Among them are the use of external magnetic coils to alter the field lines that enclose the plasma, and the injection of pellets of deuterium fuel into the plasma during experiments.

    Contributing to the EAST results was the PPPL-designed wall treatment, which coated the plasma-facing walls of the tokamak with the metal lithium and inserted lithium granules into experiments to keep the coating fresh. The silvery metal absorbed stray plasma particles and kept impurities from entering the core of the plasma and halting fusion reactions. “When lithium has been used to coat the walls of fusion devices, higher plasma temperature, pressure, and confinement have been achieved,” PPPL physicists Menard and Maingi said in an interview.

    “This was good physics,” Jackson of General Atomics said of the experiments, noting that long-pulse plasmas will be required for fusion power plants to generate electricity.

    Combining microwave beams for ELMs suppression with the advanced lithium wall treatment could thus provide a fruitful new direction for fusion-energy development. This combination of techniques, the Nature Physics paper said, offers “an attractive regime for high-performance, long-pulse operations.”

    See the full article here.

    Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory is a U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory managed by Princeton University.


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  • richardmitnick 1:04 pm on March 29, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , Tokamak Technology   

    From PPPL Lab: “US ITER is a strong contributor in plan to enhance international sharing of prime ITER real estate” 

    March 28, 2013
    Lynne Degitz

    “When the ITER experimental fusion reactor begins operation in the 2020s, over 40 diagnostic tools will provide essential data to researchers seeking to understand plasma behavior and optimize fusion performance. But before the ITER tokamak is built, researchers need to determine an efficient way of fitting all of these tools into a limited number of shielded ports that will protect the delicate diagnostic hardware and other parts of the machine from neutron flux and intense heat. A port plug integration proposal developed with the US ITER diagnostics team has helped the international ITER collaboration arrive at a clever solution for safely housing all of the tokamak diagnostic devices.

    Iter Icon

    tok

    ‘Before horizontal or vertical modules were proposed, diagnostic teams were not constrained to any particular design space. When we started working on this, we suggested that there be some type of modular approach,’ said Russ Feder, a US ITER diagnostics contributor and Senior Mechanical Engineer at Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory. ‘Originally, we proposed four horizontal drawers for each port plug. But then analysis of electromagnetic forces on these horizontal modules showed that forces were too high and the project switched to the three vertical modules.’”

    The proposal has been formalized by two ITER procurement agreements in late 2012 between US ITER, based at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and the ITER Organization; other ITER partners are expected to make similar agreements this year.”

    two
    PPPL’s Russell Feder, left, and David Johnson developed key features for a modular approach to housing the extensive diagnostic systems that will be installed on the ITER tokamak. (Photo credit: Elle Starkman/PPPL Office of Communications)

    See the full article here.

    Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory is a U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory managed by Princeton University.


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  • richardmitnick 5:09 pm on December 21, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Tokamak Technology   

    From PPPL: “PPPL teams with South Korea on the forerunner of a commercial fusion power station” 

    December 21, 2012
    John Greenwald

    “The U.S. Department of Energy’s Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) has joined forces with researchers in South Korea to develop a conceptual design for a pioneering fusion facility in that Asian nation. The proposed device, called K-DEMO, could be completed in the mid-to-late 2030s as the final step before construction of a commercial fusion power plant that would produce clean and abundant energy for generating electricity.

    kdemo
    Schematic sketch of the proposed K-DEMO fusion facility.(Photo credit: Courtesy of South Korea’s National Fusion Research Institute.)

    South Korea’s National Fusion Research Institute (NFRI) will fund PPPL’s initial collaboration, which will run for six months, beginning in January, and could be extended.

    PPPL will explore cutting-edge designs and technologies that could benefit the U.S. fusion program, and South Korea will gain access to the Laboratory’s deep experience in designing and engineering fusion facilities. These include the National Spherical Torus Experiment (NSTX), PPPL’s leading fusion experiment, which is undergoing a major upgrade.

    PPPL NSTX
    NSTX at PPPL

    K-DEMO will be comparable in size to ITER, a seven-story tokamak that the European Union, the United States, South Korea and four other nations are building in Cadarache, France. ITER is to produce 500 million watts of fusion power for 500 seconds by the late 2020s to showcase the feasibility of fusion energy. K-DEMO, by contrast, is to produce some 1 billion watts of power for several weeks on end. “K-DEMO should be just a small step away from a commercial plant in technology and performance,” said Neilson.

    PPPLTokamak
    Tokamak

    iter

    iter tokamak
    Iter paints a bigger picture, but K-Demo has a much larger goal.

    See the full PPPL article here.

    Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory is a U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory managed by Princeton University.


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  • richardmitnick 4:02 pm on December 4, 2012 Permalink | Reply
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    From PPPL: “Exploring Plasma Science Advances from Fusion Findings to Astrophysical Achievements” 

    aps

    By John Greenwald
    December 4, 2012

    “The latest advances in plasma physics were the focus of more than 1,000 scientists from around the world who gathered in Providence, R.I., from Oct. 29 through Nov. 2 for the 54th Annual Meeting of the American Physical Society’s Division of Plasma Physics (APS-DPP). Papers, posters and presentations ranged from fusion plasma discoveries applicable to ITER, to research on 3D magnetic fields and antimatter. In all, more than 1,800 papers were discussed during the week-long event.

    Researchers from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) reported on experiments and computer simulations related to tokamak confinement and a variety of other research interests. These included specialized areas such as laboratory and astrophysical plasmas, where PPPL physicist Hantao Ji was prominent as a topic chair and speaker at a tutorial session.

    tok
    Inside of the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory tokamak

    Members of the Laboratory’s National Spherical Torus Experiment Upgrade (NSTX-U) team gave a tutorial and three invited talks. Physicist Dennis Mueller presented the tutorial on Physics of Tokamak Plasma Start-up.

    nstx
    NSTX at PPPL

    The Laboratory sent 135 physicists, science educators and graduate students to the meeting and saw some of its research highlighted in news releases on the APS-DPP website. Of the 14 papers highlighted in this manner, seven came from PPPL.”

    The full article is here.

    Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory is a U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory managed by Princeton University.


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