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  • richardmitnick 12:36 pm on September 8, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "MIT-designed project achieves major advance toward fusion energy", , , , MIT’s Plasma Science and Fusion Center (PSFC) has demonstrated a record-breaking 20 tesla magnetic field., Tokamaks   

    From Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US) : “MIT-designed project achieves major advance toward fusion energy” 

    MIT News

    From Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US)

    September 8, 2021
    David Chandler

    New superconducting magnet breaks magnetic field strength records, paving the way for practical, commercial, carbon-free power.


    A Star in a Bottle: The Quest for Commercial Fusion.

    1
    This large-bore, full-scale high-temperature superconducting magnet designed and built by Commonwealth Fusion Systems and MIT’s Plasma Science and Fusion Center (PSFC) has demonstrated a record-breaking 20 tesla magnetic field. It is the strongest fusion magnet in the world. Credit: Gretchen Ertl, CFS/MIT-PSFC, 2021.

    It was a moment three years in the making, based on intensive research and design work: On Sept. 5, for the first time, a large high-temperature superconducting electromagnet was ramped up to a field strength of 20 tesla, the most powerful magnetic field of its kind ever created on Earth. That successful demonstration helps resolve the greatest uncertainty in the quest to build the world’s first fusion power plant that can produce more power than it consumes, according to the project’s leaders at MIT and startup company Commonwealth Fusion Systems (CFS).

    That advance paves the way, they say, for the long-sought creation of practical, inexpensive, carbon-free power plants that could make a major contribution to limiting the effects of global climate change.

    “Fusion in a lot of ways is the ultimate clean energy source,” says Maria Zuber, MIT’s vice president for research and E. A. Griswold Professor of Geophysics. “The amount of power that is available is really game-changing.” The fuel used to create fusion energy comes from water, and “the Earth is full of water — it’s a nearly unlimited resource. We just have to figure out how to utilize it.”

    Developing the new magnet is seen as the greatest technological hurdle to making that happen; its successful operation now opens the door to demonstrating fusion in a lab on Earth, which has been pursued for decades with limited progress. With the magnet technology now successfully demonstrated, the MIT-CFS collaboration is on track to build the world’s first fusion device that can create and confine a plasma that produces more energy than it consumes. That demonstration device, called SPARC, is targeted for completion in 2025.

    “The challenges of making fusion happen are both technical and scientific,” says Dennis Whyte, director of MIT’s Plasma Science and Fusion Center, which is working with CFS to develop SPARC. But once the technology is proven, he says, “it’s an inexhaustible, carbon-free source of energy that you can deploy anywhere and at any time. It’s really a fundamentally new energy source.”

    Whyte, who is the Hitachi America Professor of Engineering, says this week’s demonstration represents a major milestone, addressing the biggest questions remaining about the feasibility of the SPARC design. “It’s really a watershed moment, I believe, in fusion science and technology,” he says.

    The sun in a bottle

    Fusion is the process that powers the sun: the merger of two small atoms to make a larger one, releasing prodigious amounts of energy. But the process requires temperatures far beyond what any solid material could withstand. To capture the sun’s power source here on Earth, what’s needed is a way of capturing and containing something that hot — 100,000,000 degrees or more — by suspending it in a way that prevents it from coming into contact with anything solid.

    That’s done through intense magnetic fields, which form a kind of invisible bottle to contain the hot swirling soup of protons and electrons, called a plasma. Because the particles have an electric charge, they are strongly controlled by the magnetic fields, and the most widely used configuration for containing them is a donut-shaped device called a tokamak.

    Most of these devices have produced their magnetic fields using conventional electromagnets made of copper, but the latest and largest version under construction in France, called ITER, uses what are known as low-temperature superconductors.

    The major innovation in the MIT-CFS fusion design is the use of high-temperature superconductors, which enable a much stronger magnetic field in a smaller space. This design was made possible by a new kind of superconducting material that became commercially available a few years ago. The idea initially arose as a class project in a nuclear engineering class taught by Whyte. The idea seemed so promising that it continued to be developed over the next few iterations of that class, leading to the ARC power plant design concept in early 2015. SPARC, designed to be about half the size of ARC, is a testbed to prove the concept before construction of the full-size, power-producing plant.

    Until now, the only way to achieve the colossally powerful magnetic fields needed to create a magnetic “bottle” capable of containing plasma heated up to hundreds of millions of degrees was to make them larger and larger. But the new high-temperature superconductor material, made in the form of a flat, ribbon-like tape, makes it possible to achieve a higher magnetic field in a smaller device, equaling the performance that would be achieved in an apparatus 40 times larger in volume using conventional low-temperature superconducting magnets. That leap in power versus size is the key element in ARC’s revolutionary design.

    The use of the new high-temperature superconducting magnets makes it possible to apply decades of experimental knowledge gained from the operation of tokamak experiments, including MIT’s own Alcator series.

    The new approach, led by Zach Hartwig, the MIT principal investigator and the Robert N. Noyce Career Development Assistant Professor of Nuclear Science and Engineering, uses a well-known design but scales everything down to about half the linear size and still achieves the same operational conditions because of the higher magnetic field.

    A series of scientific papers published last year outlined the physical basis and, by simulation, confirmed the viability of the new fusion device [Journal of Plasma Physics]. The papers showed that, if the magnets worked as expected, the whole fusion system should indeed produce net power output, for the first time in decades of fusion research.

    Martin Greenwald, deputy director and senior research scientist at the PSFC, says unlike some other designs for fusion experiments, “the niche that we were filling was to use conventional plasma physics, and conventional tokamak designs and engineering, but bring to it this new magnet technology. So, we weren’t requiring innovation in a half-dozen different areas. We would just innovate on the magnet, and then apply the knowledge base of what’s been learned over the last decades.”

    That combination of scientifically established design principles and game-changing magnetic field strength is what makes it possible to achieve a plant that could be economically viable and developed on a fast track. “It’s a big moment,” says Bob Mumgaard, CEO of CFS. “We now have a platform that is both scientifically very well-advanced, because of the decades of research on these machines, and also commercially very interesting. What it does is allow us to build devices faster, smaller, and at less cost,” he says of the successful magnet demonstration.


    Unlocking SPARC: HTS Magnet for Commercial Fusion Applications.

    Proof of the concept

    Bringing that new magnet concept to reality required three years of intensive work on design, establishing supply chains, and working out manufacturing methods for magnets that may eventually need to be produced by the thousands.

    “We built a first-of-a-kind, superconducting magnet. It required a lot of work to create unique manufacturing processes and equipment. As a result, we are now well-prepared to ramp-up for SPARC production,” says Joy Dunn, head of operations at CFS. “We started with a physics model and a CAD design, and worked through lots of development and prototypes to turn a design on paper into this actual physical magnet.” That entailed building manufacturing capabilities and testing facilities, including an iterative process with multiple suppliers of the superconducting tape, to help them reach the ability to produce material that met the needed specifications — and for which CFS is now overwhelmingly the world’s biggest user.

    They worked with two possible magnet designs in parallel, both of which ended up meeting the design requirements, she says. “It really came down to which one would revolutionize the way that we make superconducting magnets, and which one was easier to build.” The design they adopted clearly stood out in that regard, she says.

    In this test, the new magnet was gradually powered up in a series of steps until reaching the goal of a 20 tesla magnetic field — the highest field strength ever for a high-temperature superconducting fusion magnet. The magnet is composed of 16 plates stacked together, each one of which by itself would be the most powerful high-temperature superconducting magnet in the world.

    “Three years ago we announced a plan,” says Mumgaard, “to build a 20-tesla magnet, which is what we will need for future fusion machines.” That goal has now been achieved, right on schedule, even with the pandemic, he says.

    Citing the series of physics papers published last year, Brandon Sorbom, the chief science officer at CFS, says “basically the papers conclude that if we build the magnet, all of the physics will work in SPARC. So, this demonstration answers the question: Can they build the magnet? It’s a very exciting time! It’s a huge milestone.”

    The next step will be building SPARC, a smaller-scale version of the planned ARC power plant. The successful operation of SPARC will demonstrate that a full-scale commercial fusion power plant is practical, clearing the way for rapid design and construction of that pioneering device can then proceed full speed.

    Zuber says that “I now am genuinely optimistic that SPARC can achieve net positive energy, based on the demonstrated performance of the magnets. The next step is to scale up, to build an actual power plant. There are still many challenges ahead, not the least of which is developing a design that allows for reliable, sustained operation. And realizing that the goal here is commercialization, another major challenge will be economic. How do you design these power plants so it will be cost effective to build and deploy them?”

    Someday in a hoped-for future, when there may be thousands of fusion plants powering clean electric grids around the world, Zuber says, “I think we’re going to look back and think about how we got there, and I think the demonstration of the magnet technology, for me, is the time when I believed that, wow, we can really do this.”

    The successful creation of a power-producing fusion device would be a tremendous scientific achievement, Zuber notes. But that’s not the main point. “None of us are trying to win trophies at this point. We’re trying to keep the planet livable.”

    See the full article here .


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

    Stem Education Coalition

    MIT Seal

    USPS “Forever” postage stamps celebrating Innovation at MIT.

    MIT Campus

    Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US) is a private land-grant research university in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The institute has an urban campus that extends more than a mile (1.6 km) alongside the Charles River. The institute also encompasses a number of major off-campus facilities such as the MIT Lincoln Laboratory (US), the MIT Bates Research and Engineering Center (US), and the Haystack Observatory (US), as well as affiliated laboratories such as the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard(US) and Whitehead Institute (US).

    Founded in 1861 in response to the increasing industrialization of the United States, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US) adopted a European polytechnic university model and stressed laboratory instruction in applied science and engineering. It has since played a key role in the development of many aspects of modern science, engineering, mathematics, and technology, and is widely known for its innovation and academic strength. It is frequently regarded as one of the most prestigious universities in the world.

    As of December 2020, 97 Nobel laureates, 26 Turing Award winners, and 8 Fields Medalists have been affiliated with MIT as alumni, faculty members, or researchers. In addition, 58 National Medal of Science recipients, 29 National Medals of Technology and Innovation recipients, 50 MacArthur Fellows, 80 Marshall Scholars, 3 Mitchell Scholars, 22 Schwarzman Scholars, 41 astronauts, and 16 Chief Scientists of the U.S. Air Force have been affiliated with Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US) . The university also has a strong entrepreneurial culture and MIT alumni have founded or co-founded many notable companies. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US) is a member of the Association of American Universities (AAU).

    Foundation and vision

    In 1859, a proposal was submitted to the Massachusetts General Court to use newly filled lands in Back Bay, Boston for a “Conservatory of Art and Science”, but the proposal failed. A charter for the incorporation of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, proposed by William Barton Rogers, was signed by John Albion Andrew, the governor of Massachusetts, on April 10, 1861.

    Rogers, a professor from the University of Virginia (US), wanted to establish an institution to address rapid scientific and technological advances. He did not wish to found a professional school, but a combination with elements of both professional and liberal education, proposing that:

    “The true and only practicable object of a polytechnic school is, as I conceive, the teaching, not of the minute details and manipulations of the arts, which can be done only in the workshop, but the inculcation of those scientific principles which form the basis and explanation of them, and along with this, a full and methodical review of all their leading processes and operations in connection with physical laws.”

    The Rogers Plan reflected the German research university model, emphasizing an independent faculty engaged in research, as well as instruction oriented around seminars and laboratories.

    Early developments

    Two days after Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US) was chartered, the first battle of the Civil War broke out. After a long delay through the war years, MIT’s first classes were held in the Mercantile Building in Boston in 1865. The new institute was founded as part of the Morrill Land-Grant Colleges Act to fund institutions “to promote the liberal and practical education of the industrial classes” and was a land-grant school. In 1863 under the same act, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts founded the Massachusetts Agricultural College, which developed as the University of Massachusetts Amherst (US)). In 1866, the proceeds from land sales went toward new buildings in the Back Bay.

    Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US) was informally called “Boston Tech”. The institute adopted the European polytechnic university model and emphasized laboratory instruction from an early date. Despite chronic financial problems, the institute saw growth in the last two decades of the 19th century under President Francis Amasa Walker. Programs in electrical, chemical, marine, and sanitary engineering were introduced, new buildings were built, and the size of the student body increased to more than one thousand.

    The curriculum drifted to a vocational emphasis, with less focus on theoretical science. The fledgling school still suffered from chronic financial shortages which diverted the attention of the MIT leadership. During these “Boston Tech” years, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US) faculty and alumni rebuffed Harvard University (US) president (and former MIT faculty) Charles W. Eliot’s repeated attempts to merge MIT with Harvard College’s Lawrence Scientific School. There would be at least six attempts to absorb MIT into Harvard. In its cramped Back Bay location, MIT could not afford to expand its overcrowded facilities, driving a desperate search for a new campus and funding. Eventually, the MIT Corporation approved a formal agreement to merge with Harvard, over the vehement objections of MIT faculty, students, and alumni. However, a 1917 decision by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court effectively put an end to the merger scheme.

    In 1916, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US) administration and the MIT charter crossed the Charles River on the ceremonial barge Bucentaur built for the occasion, to signify MIT’s move to a spacious new campus largely consisting of filled land on a one-mile-long (1.6 km) tract along the Cambridge side of the Charles River. The neoclassical “New Technology” campus was designed by William W. Bosworth and had been funded largely by anonymous donations from a mysterious “Mr. Smith”, starting in 1912. In January 1920, the donor was revealed to be the industrialist George Eastman of Rochester, New York, who had invented methods of film production and processing, and founded Eastman Kodak. Between 1912 and 1920, Eastman donated $20 million ($236.6 million in 2015 dollars) in cash and Kodak stock to MIT.

    Curricular reforms

    In the 1930s, President Karl Taylor Compton and Vice-President (effectively Provost) Vannevar Bush emphasized the importance of pure sciences like physics and chemistry and reduced the vocational practice required in shops and drafting studios. The Compton reforms “renewed confidence in the ability of the Institute to develop leadership in science as well as in engineering”. Unlike Ivy League schools, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US) catered more to middle-class families, and depended more on tuition than on endowments or grants for its funding. The school was elected to the Association of American Universities (US)in 1934.

    Still, as late as 1949, the Lewis Committee lamented in its report on the state of education at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US) that “the Institute is widely conceived as basically a vocational school”, a “partly unjustified” perception the committee sought to change. The report comprehensively reviewed the undergraduate curriculum, recommended offering a broader education, and warned against letting engineering and government-sponsored research detract from the sciences and humanities. The School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences and the MIT Sloan School of Management were formed in 1950 to compete with the powerful Schools of Science and Engineering. Previously marginalized faculties in the areas of economics, management, political science, and linguistics emerged into cohesive and assertive departments by attracting respected professors and launching competitive graduate programs. The School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences continued to develop under the successive terms of the more humanistically oriented presidents Howard W. Johnson and Jerome Wiesner between 1966 and 1980.

    Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US)‘s involvement in military science surged during World War II. In 1941, Vannevar Bush was appointed head of the federal Office of Scientific Research and Development and directed funding to only a select group of universities, including MIT. Engineers and scientists from across the country gathered at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US)’s Radiation Laboratory, established in 1940 to assist the British military in developing microwave radar. The work done there significantly affected both the war and subsequent research in the area. Other defense projects included gyroscope-based and other complex control systems for gunsight, bombsight, and inertial navigation under Charles Stark Draper’s Instrumentation Laboratory; the development of a digital computer for flight simulations under Project Whirlwind; and high-speed and high-altitude photography under Harold Edgerton. By the end of the war, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US) became the nation’s largest wartime R&D contractor (attracting some criticism of Bush), employing nearly 4000 in the Radiation Laboratory alone and receiving in excess of $100 million ($1.2 billion in 2015 dollars) before 1946. Work on defense projects continued even after then. Post-war government-sponsored research at MIT included SAGE and guidance systems for ballistic missiles and Project Apollo.

    These activities affected Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US) profoundly. A 1949 report noted the lack of “any great slackening in the pace of life at the Institute” to match the return to peacetime, remembering the “academic tranquility of the prewar years”, though acknowledging the significant contributions of military research to the increased emphasis on graduate education and rapid growth of personnel and facilities. The faculty doubled and the graduate student body quintupled during the terms of Karl Taylor Compton, president of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US) between 1930 and 1948; James Rhyne Killian, president from 1948 to 1957; and Julius Adams Stratton, chancellor from 1952 to 1957, whose institution-building strategies shaped the expanding university. By the 1950s, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US) no longer simply benefited the industries with which it had worked for three decades, and it had developed closer working relationships with new patrons, philanthropic foundations and the federal government.

    In late 1960s and early 1970s, student and faculty activists protested against the Vietnam War and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US)’s defense research. In this period Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US)’s various departments were researching helicopters, smart bombs and counterinsurgency techniques for the war in Vietnam as well as guidance systems for nuclear missiles. The Union of Concerned Scientists was founded on March 4, 1969 during a meeting of faculty members and students seeking to shift the emphasis on military research toward environmental and social problems. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US) ultimately divested itself from the Instrumentation Laboratory and moved all classified research off-campus to the MIT (US) Lincoln Laboratory facility in 1973 in response to the protests. The student body, faculty, and administration remained comparatively unpolarized during what was a tumultuous time for many other universities. Johnson was seen to be highly successful in leading his institution to “greater strength and unity” after these times of turmoil. However six Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US) students were sentenced to prison terms at this time and some former student leaders, such as Michael Albert and George Katsiaficas, are still indignant about MIT’s role in military research and its suppression of these protests. (Richard Leacock’s film, November Actions, records some of these tumultuous events.)

    In the 1980s, there was more controversy at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US) over its involvement in SDI (space weaponry) and CBW (chemical and biological warfare) research. More recently, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US)’s research for the military has included work on robots, drones and ‘battle suits’.

    Recent history

    Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US) has kept pace with and helped to advance the digital age. In addition to developing the predecessors to modern computing and networking technologies, students, staff, and faculty members at Project MAC, the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, and the Tech Model Railroad Club wrote some of the earliest interactive computer video games like Spacewar! and created much of modern hacker slang and culture. Several major computer-related organizations have originated at MIT since the 1980s: Richard Stallman’s GNU Project and the subsequent Free Software Foundation were founded in the mid-1980s at the AI Lab; the MIT Media Lab was founded in 1985 by Nicholas Negroponte and Jerome Wiesner to promote research into novel uses of computer technology; the World Wide Web Consortium standards organization was founded at the Laboratory for Computer Science in 1994 by Tim Berners-Lee; the MIT OpenCourseWare project has made course materials for over 2,000 Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US) classes available online free of charge since 2002; and the One Laptop per Child initiative to expand computer education and connectivity to children worldwide was launched in 2005.

    Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US) was named a sea-grant college in 1976 to support its programs in oceanography and marine sciences and was named a space-grant college in 1989 to support its aeronautics and astronautics programs. Despite diminishing government financial support over the past quarter century, MIT launched several successful development campaigns to significantly expand the campus: new dormitories and athletics buildings on west campus; the Tang Center for Management Education; several buildings in the northeast corner of campus supporting research into biology, brain and cognitive sciences, genomics, biotechnology, and cancer research; and a number of new “backlot” buildings on Vassar Street including the Stata Center. Construction on campus in the 2000s included expansions of the Media Lab, the Sloan School’s eastern campus, and graduate residences in the northwest. In 2006, President Hockfield launched the MIT Energy Research Council to investigate the interdisciplinary challenges posed by increasing global energy consumption.

    In 2001, inspired by the open source and open access movements, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US) launched OpenCourseWare to make the lecture notes, problem sets, syllabi, exams, and lectures from the great majority of its courses available online for no charge, though without any formal accreditation for coursework completed. While the cost of supporting and hosting the project is high, OCW expanded in 2005 to include other universities as a part of the OpenCourseWare Consortium, which currently includes more than 250 academic institutions with content available in at least six languages. In 2011, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US) announced it would offer formal certification (but not credits or degrees) to online participants completing coursework in its “MITx” program, for a modest fee. The “edX” online platform supporting MITx was initially developed in partnership with Harvard and its analogous “Harvardx” initiative. The courseware platform is open source, and other universities have already joined and added their own course content. In March 2009 the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US) faculty adopted an open-access policy to make its scholarship publicly accessible online.

    Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US) has its own police force. Three days after the Boston Marathon bombing of April 2013, MIT Police patrol officer Sean Collier was fatally shot by the suspects Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, setting off a violent manhunt that shut down the campus and much of the Boston metropolitan area for a day. One week later, Collier’s memorial service was attended by more than 10,000 people, in a ceremony hosted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US) community with thousands of police officers from the New England region and Canada. On November 25, 2013, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US) announced the creation of the Collier Medal, to be awarded annually to “an individual or group that embodies the character and qualities that Officer Collier exhibited as a member of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US) community and in all aspects of his life”. The announcement further stated that “Future recipients of the award will include those whose contributions exceed the boundaries of their profession, those who have contributed to building bridges across the community, and those who consistently and selflessly perform acts of kindness”.

    In September 2017, the school announced the creation of an artificial intelligence research lab called the MIT-IBM Watson AI Lab. IBM will spend $240 million over the next decade, and the lab will be staffed by MIT and IBM scientists. In October 2018 MIT announced that it would open a new Schwarzman College of Computing dedicated to the study of artificial intelligence, named after lead donor and The Blackstone Group CEO Stephen Schwarzman. The focus of the new college is to study not just AI, but interdisciplinary AI education, and how AI can be used in fields as diverse as history and biology. The cost of buildings and new faculty for the new college is expected to be $1 billion upon completion.

    The Caltech/MIT Advanced aLIGO (US) was designed and constructed by a team of scientists from California Institute of Technology (US), Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US), and industrial contractors, and funded by the National Science Foundation (US) .

    MIT/Caltech Advanced aLigo .

    It was designed to open the field of gravitational-wave astronomy through the detection of gravitational waves predicted by general relativity. Gravitational waves were detected for the first time by the LIGO detector in 2015. For contributions to the LIGO detector and the observation of gravitational waves, two Caltech physicists, Kip Thorne and Barry Barish, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US) physicist Rainer Weiss won the Nobel Prize in physics in 2017. Weiss, who is also an Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US) graduate, designed the laser interferometric technique, which served as the essential blueprint for the LIGO.

    The mission of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US) 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 Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US) community the ability and passion to work wisely, creatively, and effectively for the betterment of humankind.

     
  • richardmitnick 4:41 pm on August 2, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: A novel high-temperature superconducting tape, An approaching milestone for SPARC: a test of the Toroidal Field Magnet Coil (TFMC)., , , In preparation for the magnet testing Watterson has modeled aspects of the cryogenic system that will circulate helium gas around the TFMC to keep it cold enough to remain superconducting., , MIT SPARC fusion reactor tokamak, , SPARC is scheduled to be begin operation in 2025., Sustaining the fusion reactions long enough to draw energy from them has been a challenge., Tokamaks   

    From Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US) : “Amy Watterson: Model engineer” 

    MIT News

    From Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US)

    August 2, 2021
    Paul Rivenberg | Plasma Science and Fusion Center

    1
    Since joining the SPARC project two years ago, MIT mechanical engineer Amy Watterson has honed her computer modeling skills to prepare fusion magnets for a crucial test. Credit: Gretchen Ertl.

    “I love that we are doing something that no one else is doing.”

    Amy Watterson is excited when she talks about SPARC, the pilot fusion plant being developed by MIT spinoff Commonwealth Fusion Systems (CSF).

    Since being hired as a mechanical engineer at the Plasma Science and Fusion Center (PSFC) two years ago, Watterson has found her skills stretching to accommodate the multiple needs of the project.

    Fusion, which fuels the sun and stars, has long been sought as a carbon-free energy source for the world. For decades researchers have pursued the “tokamak,” a doughnut-shaped vacuum chamber where hot plasma can be contained by magnetic fields and heated to the point where fusion occurs. Sustaining the fusion reactions long enough to draw energy from them has been a challenge.

    Watterson is intimately aware of this difficulty. Much of her life she has heard the quip, “Fusion is 50 years away and always will be.” The daughter of PSFC research scientist Catherine Fiore, who headed the PSFC’s Office of Environment, Safety and Health, and Reich Watterson, an optical engineer working at the center, she had watched her parents devote years to making fusion a reality. She determined before entering Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)(US) that she could forgo any attempt to follow her parents into a field that might not produce results during her career.

    Working on SPARC has changed her mindset. Taking advantage of a novel high-temperature superconducting tape, SPARC’s magnets will be compact while generating magnetic fields stronger than would be possible from other mid-sized tokamaks, and producing more fusion power. It suggests a high-field device that produces net fusion gain is not 50 years away. SPARC is scheduled to be begin operation in 2025.

    An education in modeling

    Watterson’s current excitement, and focus, is due to an approaching milestone for SPARC: a test of the Toroidal Field Magnet Coil (TFMC), a scaled prototype for the HTS magnets that will surround SPARC’s toroidal vacuum chamber. Its design and manufacture have been shaped by computer models and simulations. As part of a large research team, Waterson has received an education in modeling over the past two years.

    Computer models move scientific experiments forward by allowing researchers to predict what will happen to an experiment — or its materials — if a parameter is changed. Modeling a component of the TFMC, for example, researchers can test how it is affected by varying amounts of current, different temperatures or different materials. With this information they can make choices that will improve the success of the experiment.

    In preparation for the magnet testing Watterson has modeled aspects of the cryogenic system that will circulate helium gas around the TFMC to keep it cold enough to remain superconducting. Taking into consideration the amount of cooling entering the system, the flow rate of the helium, the resistance created by valves and transfer lines and other parameters, she can model how much helium flow will be necessary to guarantee the magnet stays cold enough. Adjusting a parameter can make the difference between a magnet remaining superconducting and becoming overheated or even damaged.

    Watterson and her teammates have also modeled pressures and stress on the inside of the TFMC. Pumping helium through the coil to cool it down will add 20 atmospheres of pressure, which could create a degree of flex in elements of the magnet that are welded down. Modeling can help determine how much pressure a weld can sustain.

    “How thick does a weld need to be, and where should you put the weld so that it doesn’t break — that’s something you don’t want to leave until you’re finally assembling it,” says Watterson.

    Modeling the behavior of helium is particularly challenging because its properties change significantly as the pressure and temperature change.

    “A few degrees or a little pressure will affect the fluid’s viscosity, density, thermal conductivity, and heat capacity,” says Watterson. “The flow has different pressures and temperatures at different places in the cryogenic loop. You end up with a set of equations that are very dependent on each other, which makes it a challenge to solve.”

    Role model

    Watterson notes that her modeling depends on the contributions of colleagues at the PSFC, and praises the collaborative spirit among researchers and engineers, a community that now feels like family. Her teammates have been her mentors. “I’ve learned so much more on the job in two years than I did in four years at school,” she says.

    She realizes that having her mother as a role model in her own family has always made it easier for her to imagine becoming a scientist or engineer. Tracing her early passion for engineering to a middle school Lego robotics tournament, her eyes widen as she talks about the need for more female engineers, and the importance of encouraging girls to believe they are equal to the challenge.

    “I want to be a role model and tell them ‘I’m a successful engineer, you can be too.’ Something I run into a lot is that little girls will say, ‘I can’t be an engineer, I’m not cut out for that.’ And I say, ‘Well that’s not true. Let me show you. If you can make this Lego robot, then you can be an engineer.’ And it turns out they usually can.”

    Then, as if making an adjustment to one of her computer models, she continues.

    “Actually, they always can.”

    See the full article here .


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

    Stem Education Coalition

    MIT Seal

    USPS “Forever” postage stamps celebrating Innovation at MIT.

    MIT Campus

    Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US) is a private land-grant research university in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The institute has an urban campus that extends more than a mile (1.6 km) alongside the Charles River. The institute also encompasses a number of major off-campus facilities such as the MIT Lincoln Laboratory (US), the MIT Bates Research and Engineering Center (US), and the Haystack Observatory (US), as well as affiliated laboratories such as the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard(US) and Whitehead Institute (US).

    Founded in 1861 in response to the increasing industrialization of the United States, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US) adopted a European polytechnic university model and stressed laboratory instruction in applied science and engineering. It has since played a key role in the development of many aspects of modern science, engineering, mathematics, and technology, and is widely known for its innovation and academic strength. It is frequently regarded as one of the most prestigious universities in the world.

    As of December 2020, 97 Nobel laureates, 26 Turing Award winners, and 8 Fields Medalists have been affiliated with MIT as alumni, faculty members, or researchers. In addition, 58 National Medal of Science recipients, 29 National Medals of Technology and Innovation recipients, 50 MacArthur Fellows, 80 Marshall Scholars, 3 Mitchell Scholars, 22 Schwarzman Scholars, 41 astronauts, and 16 Chief Scientists of the U.S. Air Force have been affiliated with Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US) . The university also has a strong entrepreneurial culture and MIT alumni have founded or co-founded many notable companies. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US) is a member of the Association of American Universities (AAU).

    Foundation and vision

    In 1859, a proposal was submitted to the Massachusetts General Court to use newly filled lands in Back Bay, Boston for a “Conservatory of Art and Science”, but the proposal failed. A charter for the incorporation of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, proposed by William Barton Rogers, was signed by John Albion Andrew, the governor of Massachusetts, on April 10, 1861.

    Rogers, a professor from the University of Virginia (US), wanted to establish an institution to address rapid scientific and technological advances. He did not wish to found a professional school, but a combination with elements of both professional and liberal education, proposing that:

    “The true and only practicable object of a polytechnic school is, as I conceive, the teaching, not of the minute details and manipulations of the arts, which can be done only in the workshop, but the inculcation of those scientific principles which form the basis and explanation of them, and along with this, a full and methodical review of all their leading processes and operations in connection with physical laws.”

    The Rogers Plan reflected the German research university model, emphasizing an independent faculty engaged in research, as well as instruction oriented around seminars and laboratories.

    Early developments

    Two days after Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US) was chartered, the first battle of the Civil War broke out. After a long delay through the war years, MIT’s first classes were held in the Mercantile Building in Boston in 1865. The new institute was founded as part of the Morrill Land-Grant Colleges Act to fund institutions “to promote the liberal and practical education of the industrial classes” and was a land-grant school. In 1863 under the same act, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts founded the Massachusetts Agricultural College, which developed as the University of Massachusetts Amherst (US)). In 1866, the proceeds from land sales went toward new buildings in the Back Bay.

    Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US) was informally called “Boston Tech”. The institute adopted the European polytechnic university model and emphasized laboratory instruction from an early date. Despite chronic financial problems, the institute saw growth in the last two decades of the 19th century under President Francis Amasa Walker. Programs in electrical, chemical, marine, and sanitary engineering were introduced, new buildings were built, and the size of the student body increased to more than one thousand.

    The curriculum drifted to a vocational emphasis, with less focus on theoretical science. The fledgling school still suffered from chronic financial shortages which diverted the attention of the MIT leadership. During these “Boston Tech” years, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US) faculty and alumni rebuffed Harvard University (US) president (and former MIT faculty) Charles W. Eliot’s repeated attempts to merge MIT with Harvard College’s Lawrence Scientific School. There would be at least six attempts to absorb MIT into Harvard. In its cramped Back Bay location, MIT could not afford to expand its overcrowded facilities, driving a desperate search for a new campus and funding. Eventually, the MIT Corporation approved a formal agreement to merge with Harvard, over the vehement objections of MIT faculty, students, and alumni. However, a 1917 decision by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court effectively put an end to the merger scheme.

    In 1916, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US) administration and the MIT charter crossed the Charles River on the ceremonial barge Bucentaur built for the occasion, to signify MIT’s move to a spacious new campus largely consisting of filled land on a one-mile-long (1.6 km) tract along the Cambridge side of the Charles River. The neoclassical “New Technology” campus was designed by William W. Bosworth and had been funded largely by anonymous donations from a mysterious “Mr. Smith”, starting in 1912. In January 1920, the donor was revealed to be the industrialist George Eastman of Rochester, New York, who had invented methods of film production and processing, and founded Eastman Kodak. Between 1912 and 1920, Eastman donated $20 million ($236.6 million in 2015 dollars) in cash and Kodak stock to MIT.

    Curricular reforms

    In the 1930s, President Karl Taylor Compton and Vice-President (effectively Provost) Vannevar Bush emphasized the importance of pure sciences like physics and chemistry and reduced the vocational practice required in shops and drafting studios. The Compton reforms “renewed confidence in the ability of the Institute to develop leadership in science as well as in engineering”. Unlike Ivy League schools, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US) catered more to middle-class families, and depended more on tuition than on endowments or grants for its funding. The school was elected to the Association of American Universities (US)in 1934.

    Still, as late as 1949, the Lewis Committee lamented in its report on the state of education at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US) that “the Institute is widely conceived as basically a vocational school”, a “partly unjustified” perception the committee sought to change. The report comprehensively reviewed the undergraduate curriculum, recommended offering a broader education, and warned against letting engineering and government-sponsored research detract from the sciences and humanities. The School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences and the MIT Sloan School of Management were formed in 1950 to compete with the powerful Schools of Science and Engineering. Previously marginalized faculties in the areas of economics, management, political science, and linguistics emerged into cohesive and assertive departments by attracting respected professors and launching competitive graduate programs. The School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences continued to develop under the successive terms of the more humanistically oriented presidents Howard W. Johnson and Jerome Wiesner between 1966 and 1980.

    Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US)‘s involvement in military science surged during World War II. In 1941, Vannevar Bush was appointed head of the federal Office of Scientific Research and Development and directed funding to only a select group of universities, including MIT. Engineers and scientists from across the country gathered at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US)’s Radiation Laboratory, established in 1940 to assist the British military in developing microwave radar. The work done there significantly affected both the war and subsequent research in the area. Other defense projects included gyroscope-based and other complex control systems for gunsight, bombsight, and inertial navigation under Charles Stark Draper’s Instrumentation Laboratory; the development of a digital computer for flight simulations under Project Whirlwind; and high-speed and high-altitude photography under Harold Edgerton. By the end of the war, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US) became the nation’s largest wartime R&D contractor (attracting some criticism of Bush), employing nearly 4000 in the Radiation Laboratory alone and receiving in excess of $100 million ($1.2 billion in 2015 dollars) before 1946. Work on defense projects continued even after then. Post-war government-sponsored research at MIT included SAGE and guidance systems for ballistic missiles and Project Apollo.

    These activities affected Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US) profoundly. A 1949 report noted the lack of “any great slackening in the pace of life at the Institute” to match the return to peacetime, remembering the “academic tranquility of the prewar years”, though acknowledging the significant contributions of military research to the increased emphasis on graduate education and rapid growth of personnel and facilities. The faculty doubled and the graduate student body quintupled during the terms of Karl Taylor Compton, president of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US) between 1930 and 1948; James Rhyne Killian, president from 1948 to 1957; and Julius Adams Stratton, chancellor from 1952 to 1957, whose institution-building strategies shaped the expanding university. By the 1950s, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US) no longer simply benefited the industries with which it had worked for three decades, and it had developed closer working relationships with new patrons, philanthropic foundations and the federal government.

    In late 1960s and early 1970s, student and faculty activists protested against the Vietnam War and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US)’s defense research. In this period Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US)’s various departments were researching helicopters, smart bombs and counterinsurgency techniques for the war in Vietnam as well as guidance systems for nuclear missiles. The Union of Concerned Scientists was founded on March 4, 1969 during a meeting of faculty members and students seeking to shift the emphasis on military research toward environmental and social problems. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US) ultimately divested itself from the Instrumentation Laboratory and moved all classified research off-campus to the MIT (US) Lincoln Laboratory facility in 1973 in response to the protests. The student body, faculty, and administration remained comparatively unpolarized during what was a tumultuous time for many other universities. Johnson was seen to be highly successful in leading his institution to “greater strength and unity” after these times of turmoil. However six Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US) students were sentenced to prison terms at this time and some former student leaders, such as Michael Albert and George Katsiaficas, are still indignant about MIT’s role in military research and its suppression of these protests. (Richard Leacock’s film, November Actions, records some of these tumultuous events.)

    In the 1980s, there was more controversy at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US) over its involvement in SDI (space weaponry) and CBW (chemical and biological warfare) research. More recently, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US)’s research for the military has included work on robots, drones and ‘battle suits’.

    Recent history

    Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US) has kept pace with and helped to advance the digital age. In addition to developing the predecessors to modern computing and networking technologies, students, staff, and faculty members at Project MAC, the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, and the Tech Model Railroad Club wrote some of the earliest interactive computer video games like Spacewar! and created much of modern hacker slang and culture. Several major computer-related organizations have originated at MIT since the 1980s: Richard Stallman’s GNU Project and the subsequent Free Software Foundation were founded in the mid-1980s at the AI Lab; the MIT Media Lab was founded in 1985 by Nicholas Negroponte and Jerome Wiesner to promote research into novel uses of computer technology; the World Wide Web Consortium standards organization was founded at the Laboratory for Computer Science in 1994 by Tim Berners-Lee; the MIT OpenCourseWare project has made course materials for over 2,000 Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US) classes available online free of charge since 2002; and the One Laptop per Child initiative to expand computer education and connectivity to children worldwide was launched in 2005.

    Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US) was named a sea-grant college in 1976 to support its programs in oceanography and marine sciences and was named a space-grant college in 1989 to support its aeronautics and astronautics programs. Despite diminishing government financial support over the past quarter century, MIT launched several successful development campaigns to significantly expand the campus: new dormitories and athletics buildings on west campus; the Tang Center for Management Education; several buildings in the northeast corner of campus supporting research into biology, brain and cognitive sciences, genomics, biotechnology, and cancer research; and a number of new “backlot” buildings on Vassar Street including the Stata Center. Construction on campus in the 2000s included expansions of the Media Lab, the Sloan School’s eastern campus, and graduate residences in the northwest. In 2006, President Hockfield launched the MIT Energy Research Council to investigate the interdisciplinary challenges posed by increasing global energy consumption.

    In 2001, inspired by the open source and open access movements, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US) launched OpenCourseWare to make the lecture notes, problem sets, syllabi, exams, and lectures from the great majority of its courses available online for no charge, though without any formal accreditation for coursework completed. While the cost of supporting and hosting the project is high, OCW expanded in 2005 to include other universities as a part of the OpenCourseWare Consortium, which currently includes more than 250 academic institutions with content available in at least six languages. In 2011, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US) announced it would offer formal certification (but not credits or degrees) to online participants completing coursework in its “MITx” program, for a modest fee. The “edX” online platform supporting MITx was initially developed in partnership with Harvard and its analogous “Harvardx” initiative. The courseware platform is open source, and other universities have already joined and added their own course content. In March 2009 the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US) faculty adopted an open-access policy to make its scholarship publicly accessible online.

    Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US) has its own police force. Three days after the Boston Marathon bombing of April 2013, MIT Police patrol officer Sean Collier was fatally shot by the suspects Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, setting off a violent manhunt that shut down the campus and much of the Boston metropolitan area for a day. One week later, Collier’s memorial service was attended by more than 10,000 people, in a ceremony hosted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US) community with thousands of police officers from the New England region and Canada. On November 25, 2013, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US) announced the creation of the Collier Medal, to be awarded annually to “an individual or group that embodies the character and qualities that Officer Collier exhibited as a member of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US) community and in all aspects of his life”. The announcement further stated that “Future recipients of the award will include those whose contributions exceed the boundaries of their profession, those who have contributed to building bridges across the community, and those who consistently and selflessly perform acts of kindness”.

    In September 2017, the school announced the creation of an artificial intelligence research lab called the MIT-IBM Watson AI Lab. IBM will spend $240 million over the next decade, and the lab will be staffed by MIT and IBM scientists. In October 2018 MIT announced that it would open a new Schwarzman College of Computing dedicated to the study of artificial intelligence, named after lead donor and The Blackstone Group CEO Stephen Schwarzman. The focus of the new college is to study not just AI, but interdisciplinary AI education, and how AI can be used in fields as diverse as history and biology. The cost of buildings and new faculty for the new college is expected to be $1 billion upon completion.

    The Caltech/MIT Advanced aLIGO (US) was designed and constructed by a team of scientists from California Institute of Technology (US), Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US), and industrial contractors, and funded by the National Science Foundation (US) .

    MIT/Caltech Advanced aLigo .

    It was designed to open the field of gravitational-wave astronomy through the detection of gravitational waves predicted by general relativity. Gravitational waves were detected for the first time by the LIGO detector in 2015. For contributions to the LIGO detector and the observation of gravitational waves, two Caltech physicists, Kip Thorne and Barry Barish, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US) physicist Rainer Weiss won the Nobel Prize in physics in 2017. Weiss, who is also an Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US) graduate, designed the laser interferometric technique, which served as the essential blueprint for the LIGO.

    The mission of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US) 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 Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US) community the ability and passion to work wisely, creatively, and effectively for the betterment of humankind.

     
  • richardmitnick 3:13 pm on March 28, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "New high-performance computing hub aims to harness the sun's energy", , EUROfusion - European Consortium for the Development of Fusion Energy (EU), , , Tokamaks   

    From Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne [EPFL-École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne](CH): “New high-performance computing hub aims to harness the sun’s energy” 

    From Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne [EPFL-École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne](CH)

    1
    EPFL will soon be home to a European hub for high-performance computing focused on fusion power – a potential source of clean, risk-free energy. As part of this effort, EPFL’s Swiss Plasma Center will lead a campus-wide, cross-disciplinary research team.

    23.03.21
    Renata Vujica

    EUROfusion – European Consortium for the Development of Fusion Energy (EU), which consists of organizations from 28 European countries – has just selected EPFL as the site for its Advanced Computing Hub. This research hub will be led by the Swiss Plasma Center and bring together a diverse group of scientists from EPFL’s Institute of Mathematics, SCITAS (which houses a high-performance scientific computing platform), Swiss Data Science Center (a national center of excellence in big data), and Laboratory for Experimental Museology (eM+). These experts will provide scientific and technical support as well as supercomputing capacity to European researchers working in the field of fusion power.

    2
    JET Tokamak device at Culham, Oxfordshire, England.

    The Swiss Plasma Center is one of the world’s leading fusion research laboratories. According to its head Ambrogio Fasoli, “Being selected to host the Advanced Computing Hub reflects our recognized expertise in fusion theory and simulation, and points to the interdisciplinary nature of our work. It proves that our research is of interest to other scientific communities, like those in mathematics and big data. These scientists will soon be able to pool their knowledge and start working together on a high-level international initiative.”

    Updating simulation codes

    The research team has its work cut out for it – they will be updating computer simulation codes used by experimental fusion reactors known as tokamaks.

    The most well-known of these types of reactors, ITER, is currently being built in the south of France.

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

    The aim of tokamaks is to demonstrate the feasibility of large-scale nuclear fusion. Fusion power – generated from the same reactions that occur inside the Sun – could be an alternative for providing clean energy for the entire planet, without producing long-term radioactive waste.

    Creating a fusion reaction here on Earth, however, is an incredibly complicated task, from both an experimental and theoretical point of view. “The field of fusion power entails not just building massive reactors such as ITER, but also performing cutting-edge research to better understand, interpret and predict physical phenomena. These predictions are based on large-scale simulations that require the world’s most powerful computers. Researchers need operational support to perform such calculations,” says Paolo Ricci, a professor at the Swiss Plasma Center and the hub’s chief scientist.

    The purpose of the hub is to provide comprehensive, Europe-wide support for fusion simulations. Incredibly powerful computers are needed to simulate the complex phenomena involved in the fusion process, and these computers must be used wisely and upgraded regularly. “We’ll try to work in a scalable, adaptable manner. EUROfusion researchers need to be able to benefit from future advancements in computing technology. Our job at the Advanced Computing Hub will be to update existing simulation codes so that researchers can take full advantage of new capabilities offered by upcoming generations of supercomputers,” says Gilles Fourestey, head of the hub’s operations.

    Real-time visualizations

    The hub will also draw on one of EPFL’s new areas of expertise: 3D data visualization, using technology developed at the Laboratory for Experimental Museology (eM+), headed by Prof. Sarah Kenderdine. To help the scientists better understand the highly complex data generated by the supercomputers, Kenderdine’s lab will supply immersive augmented reality technology and state-of-the art facilities for performing highly advanced 3D visualizations.

    2
    © Photo Sarah Kenderdine Authors: Joram Posma, Sarah Kenderdine, Jeremy Nicholson

    The goal will be to graphically display the results of simulations and, ultimately, to allow researchers to interact with them in real time. “What we’re going to be doing is taking data feeds live from the Swiss Plasma Center and importing them into these big systems. This allows multiple researchers to come together in a visualization space. The emergence of real time graphics is a big, booming area, where so much is possible. But how you construct these worlds is not yet clear. So that’s what we’re going to figure out together,” says Kenderdine.

    The Advanced Computing Hub initiative will kick off on 1 July 2021 and run through 2025. However, most of the scientists involved believe that it could become a long-term fixture on EPFL’s campus. “In any case, I’ll work hard to make sure that this cross-disciplinary effort continues well beyond the European framework program,” says Fasoli.

    See the full article here .

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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    EPFL bloc

    EPFL campus

    The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne [EPFL-École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne](CH) is a research institute and university in Lausanne, Switzerland, that specializes in natural sciences and engineering. It is one of the two Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology, and it has three main missions: education, research and technology transfer.

    The QS World University Rankings ranks EPFL(CH) 14th in the world across all fields in their 2020/2021 ranking, whereas Times Higher Education World University Rankings ranks EPFL(CH) as the world’s 19th best school for Engineering and Technology in 2020.

    EPFL(CH) is located in the French-speaking part of Switzerland; the sister institution in the German-speaking part of Switzerland is the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich(CH) (ETH Zürich(CH). Associated with several specialized research institutes, the two universities form the Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology Domain (ETH(CH) Domain) which is directly dependent on the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research. In connection with research and teaching activities, EPFL(CH) operates a nuclear reactor CROCUS; a Tokamak Fusion reactor; a Blue Gene/Q Supercomputer; and P3 bio-hazard facilities.

    The roots of modern-day EPFL(CH) can be traced back to the foundation of a private school under the name École spéciale de Lausanne in 1853 at the initiative of Lois Rivier, a graduate of the École Centrale Paris (FR) and John Gay the then professor and rector of the Académie de Lausanne. At its inception it had only 11 students and the offices was located at Rue du Valentin in Lausanne. In 1869, it became the technical department of the public Académie de Lausanne. When the Académie was reorganised and acquired the status of a university in 1890, the technical faculty changed its name to École d’ingénieurs de l’Université de Lausanne. In 1946, it was renamed the École polytechnique de l’Université de Lausanne (EPUL). In 1969, the EPUL was separated from the rest of the University of Lausanne and became a federal institute under its current name. EPFL(CH), like ETH Zürich(CH), is thus directly controlled by the Swiss federal government. In contrast, all other universities in Switzerland are controlled by their respective cantonal governments. Following the nomination of Patrick Aebischer as president in 2000, EPFL(CH) has started to develop into the field of life sciences. It absorbed the Swiss Institute for Experimental Cancer Research (ISREC) in 2008.

    In 1946, there were 360 students. In 1969, EPFL(CH) had 1,400 students and 55 professors. In the past two decades the university has grown rapidly and as of 2012 roughly 14,000 people study or work on campus, about 9,300 of these being Bachelor, Master or PhD students. The environment at modern day EPFL(CH) is highly international with the school attracting students and researchers from all over the world. More than 125 countries are represented on the campus and the university has two official languages, French and English.

    Organization

    EPFL is organised into eight schools, themselves formed of institutes that group research units (laboratories or chairs) around common themes:

    School of Basic Sciences (SB, Jan S. Hesthaven)

    Institute of Mathematics (MATH, Victor Panaretos)
    Institute of Chemical Sciences and Engineering (ISIC, Emsley Lyndon)
    Institute of Physics (IPHYS, Harald Brune)
    European Centre of Atomic and Molecular Computations (CECAM, Ignacio Pagonabarraga Mora)
    Bernoulli Center (CIB, Nicolas Monod)
    Biomedical Imaging Research Center (CIBM, Rolf Gruetter)
    Interdisciplinary Center for Electron Microscopy (CIME, Cécile Hébert)
    Max Planck-EPFL Centre for Molecular Nanosciences and Technology (CMNT, Thomas Rizzo)
    Swiss Plasma Center (SPC, Ambrogio Fasoli)
    Laboratory of Astrophysics (LASTRO, Jean-Paul Kneib)

    School of Engineering (STI, Ali Sayed)

    Institute of Electrical Engineering (IEL, Giovanni De Micheli)
    Institute of Mechanical Engineering (IGM, Thomas Gmür)
    Institute of Materials (IMX, Michaud Véronique)
    Institute of Microengineering (IMT, Olivier Martin)
    Institute of Bioengineering (IBI, Matthias Lütolf)

    School of Architecture, Civil and Environmental Engineering (ENAC, Claudia R. Binder)

    Institute of Architecture (IA, Luca Ortelli)
    Civil Engineering Institute (IIC, Eugen Brühwiler)
    Institute of Urban and Regional Sciences (INTER, Philippe Thalmann)
    Environmental Engineering Institute (IIE, David Andrew Barry)

    School of Computer and Communication Sciences (IC, James Larus)

    Algorithms & Theoretical Computer Science
    Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning
    Computational Biology
    Computer Architecture & Integrated Systems
    Data Management & Information Retrieval
    Graphics & Vision
    Human-Computer Interaction
    Information & Communication Theory
    Networking
    Programming Languages & Formal Methods
    Security & Cryptography
    Signal & Image Processing
    Systems

    School of Life Sciences (SV, Gisou van der Goot)

    Bachelor-Master Teaching Section in Life Sciences and Technologies (SSV)
    Brain Mind Institute (BMI, Carmen Sandi)
    Institute of Bioengineering (IBI, Melody Swartz)
    Swiss Institute for Experimental Cancer Research (ISREC, Douglas Hanahan)
    Global Health Institute (GHI, Bruno Lemaitre)
    Ten Technology Platforms & Core Facilities (PTECH)
    Center for Phenogenomics (CPG)
    NCCR Synaptic Bases of Mental Diseases (NCCR-SYNAPSY)

    College of Management of Technology (CDM)

    Swiss Finance Institute at EPFL (CDM-SFI, Damir Filipovic)
    Section of Management of Technology and Entrepreneurship (CDM-PMTE, Daniel Kuhn)
    Institute of Technology and Public Policy (CDM-ITPP, Matthias Finger)
    Institute of Management of Technology and Entrepreneurship (CDM-MTEI, Ralf Seifert)
    Section of Financial Engineering (CDM-IF, Julien Hugonnier)

    College of Humanities (CDH, Thomas David)

    Human and social sciences teaching program (CDH-SHS, Thomas David)

    EPFL Middle East (EME, Dr. Franco Vigliotti)[62]

    Section of Energy Management and Sustainability (MES, Prof. Maher Kayal)

    In addition to the eight schools there are seven closely related institutions

    Swiss Cancer Centre
    Center for Biomedical Imaging (CIBM)
    Centre for Advanced Modelling Science (CADMOS)
    École cantonale d’art de Lausanne (ECAL)
    Campus Biotech
    Wyss Center for Bio- and Neuro-engineering
    Swiss National Supercomputing Centre

     
  • richardmitnick 2:54 pm on February 6, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "New fiber optic temperature sensing approach to keep fusion power plants running", A focus on fusion's viability, , FBGs-Fiber Bragg gratings, , ITER fusion facility in France, , , Quench, Quench occurs when part of a magnet’s coil shifts out of a superconducting state where it has no electrical resistance and into a normal resistive state., SPARC program known as VIPER, The pursuit of fusion as a safe carbon-free always-on energy source has intensified in recent years., Tokamaks   

    From MIT: “New fiber optic temperature sensing approach to keep fusion power plants running” 

    MIT News

    From MIT News

    1
    Erica Salazar and her team, like the entire SPARC research and development effort, approached its work with a focus on eventual commercialization, usability, and ease of manufacture, with an eye toward accelerating fusion’s viability as an energy source.
    Credits: the researchers.

    The pursuit of fusion as a safe, carbon-free, always-on energy source has intensified in recent years, with a number of organizations pursuing aggressive timelines for technology demonstrations and power plant designs. New-generation superconducting magnets are a critical enabler for many of these programs, which creates growing need for sensors, controls, and other infrastructure that will allow the magnets to operate reliably in the harsh conditions of a commercial fusion power plant.

    A collaborative group led by Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering (NSE) doctoral student Erica Salazar recently took a step forward in this area with a promising new method for quick detection of a disruptive abnormality, quench, in powerful high-temperature superconducting (HTS) magnets. Salazar worked with NSE Assistant Professor Zach Hartwig of the MIT Plasma Science and Fusion Center (PSFC) and Michael Segal of spinout Commonwealth Fusion Systems (CFS), along with members of the Swiss CERN research center and the Robinson Research Institute (RRI) at Victoria University in New Zealand to achieve the results, which were published in the journal Superconductor Science and Technology.

    Stanching quench

    Quench occurs when part of a magnet’s coil shifts out of a superconducting state, where it has no electrical resistance, and into a normal resistive state. This causes the massive current flowing through the coil, and stored energy in the magnet, to quickly convert into heat, and potentially cause serious internal damage to the coil.

    While quench is a problem for all systems using superconducting magnets, Salazar’s team is focused on preventing it in power plants based on magnetic-confinement fusion devices. These types of fusion devices, known as tokamaks, will maintain a plasma at extremely high temperature, similar to the core of a star, where fusion can occur and generate net-positive energy output. No physical material can handle those temperatures, so magnetic fields are used to confine, control, and insulate the plasma. The new HTS magnets allow the tokamak’s toroidal (doughnut-shaped) magnetic enclosure to be both stronger and more compact, but interruptions in the magnetic field from quench would halt the fusion process — hence the importance of improved sensor and control capabilities.

    With this in mind, Salazar’s group sought a way of quickly spotting temperature changes in the superconductors, which can indicate nascent quench incidents. Their test bed was a novel superconducting cable developed in the SPARC program known as VIPER, which incorporates assemblies of thin steel tape coated with HTS material, stabilized by a copper former and jacketed in copper and stainless steel, with a central channel for cryogenic cooling. Coils of VIPER can generate magnetic fields two-to-three times stronger than the older-generation low-temperature superconducting (LTS) cable; this translates into vastly higher fusion output power, but also makes the energy density of the field higher, which places more onus on quench detection to protect the coil.

    A focus on fusion’s viability

    Salazar’s team, like the entire SPARC research and development effort, approached its work with a focus on eventual commercialization, usability, and ease of manufacture, with an eye toward accelerating fusion’s viability as an energy source. Her background as a mechanical engineer with General Atomics during production and testing of LTS magnets for the international ITER fusion facility in France gave her perspective on sensing technologies and the critical design-to-production transition.


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

    “Moving from manufacturing into design helped me think about whether what we’re doing is a practical implementation,” explains Salazar. Moreover, her experience with voltage monitoring, the traditional quench-detection approach for superconducting cable, led her to think a different approach was needed. “During fault testing of the ITER magnets, we observed electrical breakdown of the insulation occurring at the voltage tap wires. Because I now consider anything that breaks high-voltage insulation to be a major risk point, my perspective on a quench detection system was, what do we do to minimize these risks, and how can we make it as robust as possible?”

    A promising alternative was temperature measurement using optical fibers inscribed with micro-patterns known as Fiber Bragg gratings (FBGs). When broadband light is directed at an FBG, most of the light passes through, but one wavelength (determined by the spacing, or period, of the grating’s pattern) is reflected. The reflected wavelength varies slightly with both temperature and strain, so placement of a series of gratings with different periods along the fiber allows independent temperature monitoring of each location.

    While FBGs have been leveraged across many different industries for measurement of strain and temperature, including on much smaller superconducting cables, they had not been used on larger cables with high current densities like VIPER. “We wanted to take good work by others and put it to the test on our cable design,” says Salazar. VIPER cable was well-adapted for this approach, she notes, because of its stable structure, which is designed to withstand the intense electrical, mechanical, and electromagnetic stresses of a fusion magnet’s environment.

    A new extension on FBGs

    A novel option was provided by the RRI team in the form of ultra-long fiber Bragg gratings (ULFBGs) — a series of 9-milimeter FBGs spaced 1 mm apart. These essentially behave as one long quasi-continuous FBG, but with the advantage that the combined grating length can be meters long instead of millimeters. While conventional FBGs can monitor temperature changes at localized points, ULFBGs can monitor simultaneously occurring temperature changes along their entire length, allowing them to provide very rapid detection of temperature variation, irrespective of the location of the heat source.

    Although this means that the precise location of hot spots is obscured, it works very well in systems where early identification of a problem is of utmost importance, as in an operating fusion device. And a combination of ULFBGs and FBGs could provide both spatial and temporal resolution.

    An opportunity for hands-on verification came via a CERN team working with standard FBGs on accelerator magnets at the CERN facility in Geneva, Switzerland. “They thought FBG technology, including the ULFBG concept, would work well on this type of cable and wanted to look into it, and got on board with the project,” says Salazar.

    In 2019, she and colleagues journeyed to the SULTAN facility in Villigen, Switzerland, a leading center for superconducting cable evaluation operated by the Swiss Plasma Center (SPC), which is affiliated with Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, to evaluate samples of VIPER cable with optical fibers set into grooves on their outer copper jackets. Their performance was compared to traditional voltage taps and resistance temperature sensors.

    Quick detection under realistic conditions

    The researchers were able to quickly and reliably detect small temperature disturbances under realistic operating conditions, with the fibers picking up early-stage quench growth before thermal runaway more effectively than the voltage taps. When compared to the challenging electromagnetic environment seen in a fusion device, the fibers’ signal-to-noise ratio was several times better; in addition, their sensitivity increased as quench regions expanded, and the fibers’ response times could be tuned. This enabled them to detect quench events tens of seconds faster than voltage taps, especially during slowly propagating quenches — a characteristic unique to HTS which is exceptionally difficult for voltage taps to detect in the tokamak environment, and which can lead to localized damage.

    “[U]sing fiber optic technologies for HTS magnets quench detection or as a dual verification method with voltage show great promise,” says the group’s write-up, which also cites the manufacturability and minimal technological risk of the approach.

    “The development of sensitive temperature measurements with FBGs is a very promising approach to the challenging problem of protecting HTS coils from damage during quenches,” observes Kathleen Amm, director of the Brookhaven National Laboratory Magnet Division, who was not affiliated with the research effort. “This is critical to the development of game-changing technologies like compact fusion, where practical, high-field, high-temperature superconducting magnets are a key technology. It also has the potential to solve the problem of quench protection for many industrial HTS applications.”

    Work is underway on refining the location and installation of the fibers, including the type of adhesive used, and also on investigating how the fibers can be installed in other cables and on different platforms, says Salazar.

    “We’re having a lot of dialogue with CFS and continuing to coordinate with the RRI team’s ULFBG technology, and I am currently creating a 3D model of quench dynamics, so we can better understand and predict what quench would look like under different conditions,” states Salazar. “Then we can develop design recommendations for the detection system, like the type and spacing of the gratings, so it can detect in the desired length of time. That will allow the controls engineers and the engineers working on quench detection algorithms to write and optimize their code.”

    Salazar praised the experimental team’s outstanding collegiality, noting, “the collaboration with RRI and CERN was special. We all converged in Switzerland, worked hard together, and had fun putting our efforts in and getting great results.”

    Funding for this research was provided by CFS.

    See the full article here .


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  • richardmitnick 12:24 pm on December 30, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Scientists collaborate on public-private partnership to facilitate the development of commercial fusion energy", , , , , , SPARC fusion reactor, Tokamaks   

    From DOE’s Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory: “Scientists collaborate on public-private partnership to facilitate the development of commercial fusion energy” 


    From DOE’s Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory

    December 18, 2020 [Just now in social media.]
    John Greenwald
    PPPL Office of Communications
    pppl_communications@pppl.gov
    609-243-2755

    1
    Physicist Gerrit Kramer with conceptual image of SPARC fusion reactor. Collage and Kramer photo by Elle Starkman/Office of Communications. SPARC image courtesy of Commonwealth Fusion Systems.

    The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) is collaborating with private industry on cutting-edge fusion research aimed at achieving commercial fusion energy. This work, enabled through a public-private DOE grant program, supports efforts to develop high-performance fusion grade plasmas. In one such project PPPL is working in coordination with MIT’s Plasma Science and Fusion Center (PSFC) and Commonwealth Fusion Systems, a start-up spun out of MIT that is developing a tokamak fusion device called SPARC.

    The goal of the project is to predict the leakage of fast “alpha” particles produced during the fusion reactions in SPARC, given the size and potential misalignments of the superconducting magnets that confine the plasma. These particles can create a largely self-heated or “burning plasma” that fuels fusion reactions. Development of burning plasma is a major scientific goal for fusion energy research. However, leakage of alpha particles could slow or halt the production of fusion energy and damage the interior of the SPARC facility.

    New superconducting magnets

    Key features of the SPARC machine include its compact size and powerful magnetic fields enabled by the ability of new superconducting magnets to operate at higher fields and stresses than existing superconducting magnets. These features will enable design and construction of smaller and less-expensive fusion facilities, as described in recent publications by the SPARC team — assuming that the fast alpha particles created in fusion reactions can be contained long enough to keep the plasma hot.

    “Our research indicates that they can be,” said PPPL physicist Gerrit Kramer, who participates in the project through the DOE Innovation Network for Fusion Energy (INFUSE) program. The two-year-old program, which PPPL physicist Ahmed Diallo serves as deputy director, aims to speed private-sector development of fusion energy through partnerships with national laboratories.

    Well-confined

    “We found that the alpha particles are indeed well confined in the SPARC design,” said Kramer, coauthor of a paper in the Journal of Plasma Physics that reports the findings. He worked closely with the lead author Steven Scott, a consultant to Commonwealth Fusion Systems and former long-time physicist at PPPL.

    Kramer used the SPIRAL computer code developed at PPPL to verify the particle confinement. “The code, which simulates the wavy pattern, or ripples, in a magnetic field that could allow the escape of fast particles, showed good confinement and lack of damage to the SPARC walls,” Kramer said. Moreover, he added, “the SPIRAL code agreed well with the ASCOT code from Finland. While the two codes are completely different, the results were similar.”

    The findings gladdened Scott. “It’s gratifying to see the computational validation of our understanding of ripple-induced losses,” he said, “since I studied the issue experimentally back in the early 1980s for my doctoral dissertation.”

    Fusion reactions combine light elements in the form of plasma — the hot, charged state of matter composed of free electrons and atomic nuclei, or ions, that comprises 99 percent of the visible universe — to generate massive amounts of energy. Scientists around the world are seeking to create fusion as a virtually unlimited source of power for generating electricity.

    Key guidance

    Kramer and colleagues noted that misalignment of the SPARC magnets will increase the ripple-induced losses of fusion particles leading to increased power striking the walls. Their calculations should provide key guidance to the SPARC engineering team about how well the magnets must be aligned to avoid excessive power loss and wall damage. Properly aligned magnets will enable studies of plasma self-heating for the first time and development of improved techniques for plasma control in future fusion power plants.

    Support for this research comes from Commonwealth Fusion Systems. Support for Kramer comes from the DOE Office of Science INFUSE program. Contributors to the project include physicists from PSFC; Aalto University in Espoo, Finland; and Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg, Sweden.

    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 https://energy.gov/science.

    About Princeton: Overview
    Princeton University is a vibrant community of scholarship and learning that stands in the nation’s service and in the service of all nations. Chartered in 1746, Princeton is the fourth-oldest college in the United States. Princeton is an independent, coeducational, nondenominational institution that provides undergraduate and graduate instruction in the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences and engineering.

    As a world-renowned research university, Princeton seeks to achieve the highest levels of distinction in the discovery and transmission of knowledge and understanding. At the same time, Princeton is distinctive among research universities in its commitment to undergraduate teaching.

    Today, more than 1,100 faculty members instruct approximately 5,200 undergraduate students and 2,600 graduate students. The University’s generous financial aid program ensures that talented students from all economic backgrounds can afford a Princeton education.

    Princeton Shield

     
  • richardmitnick 2:29 pm on December 3, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "U.K. seeks site for world’s first fusion power station", , , , Tokamaks   

    From Science Magazine: “U.K. seeks site for world’s first fusion power station” 

    From Science Magazine

    Dec. 2, 2020
    Daniel Clery

    1
    A U.K. spherical tokamak aims to generate 50 megawatts of fusion power when it starts up in 2040.
    Credit: U.K. Atomic Energy Authority.

    The U.K. government today invited communities around the country to volunteer a site for a prototype fusion reactor, which would be the first—it is hoped—to put electricity into the grid. The project, called Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production (STEP), began last year with an initial £222 million over 5 years to develop a design. The U.K. Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA), the government agency overseeing the effort, says construction could begin as soon as 2032, with operations by 2040.

    “Any new device is welcome because it brings new insights,” says Tony Donné, director of EUROfusion, the European Union’s fusion program. But he suspects STEP won’t quite cut it as a power generator. “My impression is that it will be more of a component test facility.”

    The race is on around the world to build the first fusion reactor that can generate excess energy. Fusion melds isotopes of hydrogen together in a superheated gas, or plasma—mirroring the process that powers the stars. The fuel sources are relatively plentiful and radiation concerns are slight compared with nuclear reactors powered by fission.

    But as a practical power source, fusion has remained a distant dream. It requires temperatures of hundreds of millions of degrees. To prevent the hot plasma from touching and melting its containment vessel, engineers typically use powerful magnets that surround doughnut-shaped tokamaks. But no tokamak has generated more energy from fusion than is used to heat up the plasma. The ITER tokamak in France, due for completion in 2025, will be the first to demonstrate energy gain, although that won’t happen until after 2035 and even then, the fusion energy won’t be used to generate electricity.

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

    The spherical STEP would look more like a cored apple than a doughnut. This confers more stability in the plasma so operators can achieve higher temperatures in a smaller device. Spherical tokamaks have been pioneered at UKAEA’s Culham Centre for Fusion Energy (CCFE), with a device called the Mega Amp Spherical Tokamak (MAST) Upgrade, and in the United States at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory with its National Spherical Torus Experiment Upgrade device.

    2
    A computer simulation of a plasma inside the United Kingdom’s new experimental fusion reactor. Credit:UKAEA.

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

    The United Kingdom now hopes to capitalize on that experience with STEP, which would aim to generate 50 megawatts of electrical power. “STEP is a logical step after MAST Upgrade,” Donné says.

    CCFE Director Ian Chapman says the small size of spherical tokamaks is a key advantage because the greatest cost in the $25 billion ITER is its gigantic magnets. With capital costs as low as a few billion dollars, Chapman says STEP would be far cheaper than ITER—necessary if fusion is ever to compete with fossil or renewable power stations that can be built for less and generate comparable amounts of energy.

    But spherical tokamaks also come with drawbacks, Donné says. The hot dense plasma in a smaller device is more punishing on materials, so components may need to be replaced more often. And STEP is unlikely to be capable of breeding tritium, one of two hydrogen isotopes that fuels the reactor. Tritium is radioactive with a half-life of 12 years and global supplies are low. A working reactor will have to breed its own tritium by surrounding the vessel with patches of lithium that produce tritium when bombarded by neutrons from the fusion reaction. ITER will be the first attempt at demonstrating tritium breeding. STEP, Donné says, “couldn’t implement tritium breeding in such a short time.”

    Donné also suspects there is a political element in the push for STEP. CCFE is also home to the Joint European Torus, now the world’s largest tokamak, which is nearing the end of its working life. Its demise could potentially leave a lot of fusion researchers with time on their hands. The United Kingdom’s future as a partner in the ITER project is also in question, if the country does not sign a trade agreement with the European Union. And CCFE has private sector rivals breathing down its neck. Tokamak Energy, a U.K. startup, is trying to build a compact spherical tokamak for energy production by 2030 and U.S. startup Commonwealth Fusion Systems has plans to start to build a similar working reactor by 2025.

    That’ll be of little concern to the communities vying to host STEP, who will see it as a way to draw money and jobs to their region. They have until March 2021 to apply, and will need to offer 100 hectares of land, which will be vetted for geological suitability, access, and other criteria. UKAEA plans to choose a site by the end of 2022.

    See the full article here .


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  • richardmitnick 3:03 pm on November 12, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Magnetic confinement, , , , Tokamaks   

    From MIT News: “Pushing the envelope with fusion magnets” 

    MIT News

    From MIT News

    November 6, 2020
    Paul Rivenberg | Plasma Science and Fusion Center

    MIT Energy Fellow David Fischer irradiates high-temperature superconducting tape to test its resilience and prepare for the first pilot fusion plant.

    1
    David Fischer sits beside the experiment’s vacuum chamber (illuminated in blue), where the high temperature superconductor tapes will be mounted for proton irradiation and in situ transport current measurement. His laptop shows data obtained in such measurements — the basis for determining the critical current. Credit:Zoe Fisher.

    “At the age of between 12 and 15 I was drawing; I was making plans of fusion devices.”

    David Fischer remembers growing up in Vienna, Austria, imagining how best to cool the furnace used to contain the hot soup of ions known as plasma in a fusion device called a tokamak. With plasma hotter than the core of the sun being generated in a donut-shaped vacuum chamber just a meter away from these magnets, what temperature ranges might be possible with different coolants, he wondered.

    “I was drawing these plans and showing them to my father,” he recalls. “Then somehow I forgot about this fusion idea.”

    Now starting his second year at the MIT Plasma Science and Fusion Center (PSFC) as a postdoc and a new Eni-sponsored MIT Energy Fellow, Fischer has clearly reconnected with the “fusion idea.” And his research revolves around the concepts that so engaged him as a youth.

    Fischer’s early designs explored a popular approach to generating carbon-free, sustainable fusion energy known as “magnetic confinement.” Since plasma responds to magnetic fields, the tokamak is designed with magnets to keep the fusing atoms inside the vessel and away from the metal walls, where they would cause damage. The more effective the magnetic confinement the more stable the plasma can become, and the longer it can be sustained within the device.

    Fischer is working on ARC, a fusion pilot plant concept that employs thin high-temperature superconductor (HTS) tapes in the fusion magnets.

    HTS allows much higher magnetic fields than would be possible from conventional superconductors, enabling a more compact tokamak design. HTS also allows the fusion magnets to operate at higher temperatures, greatly reducing the required cooling.

    Fischer is particularly interested in how to keep the HTS tapes from degrading. Fusion reactions create neutrons, which can damage many parts of a fusion device, with the strongest effect on components closest to the plasma. Although the superconducting tapes may be as much as a meter away from the first wall of the tokamak, neutrons can still reach them. Even in reduced numbers and after losing most of their energy, the neutrons damage the microstructure of the HTS tape and over time change the properties of the superconducting magnets.

    Much of Fischer’s focus is devoted to the effect of irradiation damage on the critical currents, the maximum electrical current that can pass through a superconductor without dissipating energy. If irradiation causes the critical currents to degrade too much, the fusion magnets can no longer produce the high magnetic fields necessary to confine and compress the plasma.

    Fischer notes that it is possible to reduce damage to the magnets almost completely by adding more shielding between the magnets and the fusion plasma. However, this would require more space, which comes at a premium in a compact fusion power plant.

    “You can’t just put infinite shielding in between. You have to learn first how much damage can this superconductor tolerate, and then determine how long do you want the fusion magnets to last. And then design around these parameters.”

    Fischer’s expertise with HTS tapes stems from studies at Technische Universität Wien (AT). Working on his master’s degree in the low temperature physics group, he was told that a PhD position was available researching radiation damage on coated conductors, materials that could be used for fusion magnets.

    Recalling the drawings he shared with his father, he thought, “Oh, that’s interesting. I was attracted to fusion more than 10 years ago. Yeah, let’s do that.”

    The resulting research on the effects of neutron irradiation on high-temperature superconductors for fusion magnets, presented at a workshop in Japan, got the attention of PSFC nuclear science and engineering Professor Zach Hartwig and Commonwealth Fusion Systems Chief Science Officer Brandon Sorbom.

    “They lured me in,” he laughs.

    Like Fischer, Sorbom had explored in his own dissertation the effect of radiation damage on the critical current of HTS tapes. What neither researcher had the opportunity to examine was how the tapes behave when irradiated at 20 kelvins, the temperature at which the HTS fusion magnets will operate.

    Fischer now finds himself overseeing a proton irradiation laboratory for PSFC Director Dennis Whyte. He is building a device that will not only allow him to irradiate the superconductors at 20 K, but also immediately measure changes in the critical currents.

    He is glad to be back in the NW13 lab, fondly known as “The Vault,” working safely with graduate and Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program student assistants. During his Covid-19 lockdown, he was able to work from home on programming a measurement software, but he missed the daily connection with his peers.

    “The atmosphere is very inspiring,” he says, noting some of the questions his work has recently stimulated. “What is the effect of the irradiation temperature? What are the mechanisms for the degradation of the critical currents? Could we design HTS tapes that are more radiation resistant? Is there a way to heal radiation damage?”

    Fischer may have the chance to explore some of his questions as he prepares to coordinate the planning and design of a new neutron irradiation facility at MIT.

    “It’s a great opportunity for me,” he says. “It’s great to be responsible for a project now, and see that people trust that you can make it work.”

    See the full article here .


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    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.

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  • richardmitnick 2:01 pm on January 3, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Nuno Loureiro: Understanding turbulence in plasmas", , , , , Tokamaks   

    From MIT News: “Nuno Loureiro: Understanding turbulence in plasmas” 

    MIT News
    MIT Widget

    From MIT News

    January 3, 2019
    Peter Dunn

    1
    “When we stimulate theoretically inclined minds by framing plasma physics and fusion challenges as beautiful theoretical physics problems, we bring into the game incredibly brilliant students,” says associate professor of nuclear science and engineering Nuno Loureiro. Photo: Gretchen Ertl

    Theoretical physicist’s focus on the complexity of plasma turbulence could pay dividends in fusion energy.

    Difficult problems with big payoffs are the life blood of MIT, so it’s appropriate that plasma turbulence has been an important focus for theoretical physicist Nuno Loureiro in his two years at the Institute, first as a assistant professor and now as an associate professor of nuclear science and engineering.

    New turbulence-related publications by Loureiro’s research group are contributing to the quest to develop nuclear fusion as a practical energy source, and to emerging astrophysical research that delves into the fundamental mechanisms of the universe.

    Turbulence is around us every day, when smoke rises through air, or milk is poured into coffee. While engineers can draw on substantial empirical knowledge of how it behaves, turbulence’s fundamental principles remain a mystery. Decades ago, Nobel laureate Richard Feynman ’39 referred to it as “the most important unsolved problem of classical physics” — and that still holds true today.

    But turbulence in air or coffee is a simple proposition compared to turbulence in plasma. Ordinary gases and liquids can be modeled as neutral fluids, but plasmas are electromagnetic media. Their turbulent behavior involves both the particles in the plasma (typically electrons and ions, but also electrons and positrons in so-called pair plasmas) and pervading electrical and magnetic fields. In addition, plasmas are often rarefied media where collisions are rare, creating an even more intricate dynamic.

    “There are several additional layers of complexity [in plasma turbulence] over neutral fluid turbulence,” Loureiro says.

    This lack of first-principles understanding is hindering the adaption of fusion for generating electricity. Tokamak-style fusion devices, like the Alcator C-Mod developed at MIT’s Plasma Science and Fusion Center (PSFC), where Loureiro’s research group is based, are a promising approach, and recent the spinout company Commonwealth Fusion Systems (CFS) is working to commercialize the concept. But fusion devices have yet to achieve net energy gain, in large part because of turbulence.

    Alcator C-Mod tokamak at MIT, no longer in operation

    Loureiro and his student Rogério Jorge, with co-author Professor Paolo Ricci from the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland, recently helped advance thinking in this area in a new paper, “Theory of the Drift-Wave Instability at Arbitrary Collisionality,” published in the journal Physical Review Letters.

    “This was amazing work by a fantastic student — a very complicated calculation that represents a qualitative advancement to the field,” Loureiro says.

    He explains that turbulence in tokamaks changes “flavor” depending on “where you are — at the periphery or near the core.”

    “Both are important, but periphery turbulence has important engineering implications because it determines how much heat reaches the plasma-facing components of the device,” Loureiro says. Preventing heat damage to materials, and maximizing operational life, are key priorities for tokamak developers.

    The paper offers a novel and more-robust description of turbulence in the tokamak periphery caused by low-frequency drift waves, which are a key source of that turbulence and regulators of plasma transport across magnetic fields. And because the computational framework is especially efficient, the approach can be easily extended to other applications. “I think it’s going to be an important piece of work for the fusion concepts that PSFC and CFS are trying to develop,” he says.

    A separate paper, “Turbulence in Magnetized Pair Plasmas,” which Loureiro co-authored with Professor Stanislav Boldyrev of the University of Wisconsin at Madison, puts forward the first theory of turbulence in pair plasmas. The work, published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters, was driven in part by last year’s unprecedented observations of a binary neutron star merger and other discoveries in astrophysics that suggest pair plasmas may be abundant in space — though none has been successfully created on Earth.

    “A variety of astrophysical environments are probably pair-plasma dominated, and turbulent,” notes Loureiro. “Pair plasmas are quite different from regular plasmas. In a normal electron-ion plasma, the ion is about 2,000 times heavier than the electron. But electrons and positrons have exactly the same mass, so there’s a whole range of behaviors that aren’t possible in a normal plasma and vice-versa.”

    Because computational calculations involving equal-weight particles are much more efficient, researchers often run pair-plasma numerical simulations and try to extrapolate findings to electron-ion plasmas.

    “But if you don’t understand how they’re the same or different from a theoretical point of view, it’s very hard to make that connection,” Loureiro points out. “By providing that theory we can help tell which characteristics are intrinsic to pair plasmas and which are shared. Looking at the building blocks may impact electron-ion plasma research too.”

    This theme of theoretical integration characterizes much of Loureiro’s work, and led to his being invited to present at a recent interdisciplinary event for plasma physicists and astrophysicists at New York City’s Flatiron Institute Center for Computational Astrophysics, an arm of a foundation created by billionaire James Simons ’58. It is also central to his role as a theorist within the MIT NSE ecosystem, especially on extremely complex challenges like fusion development.

    “There are people who are driven by technology and engineering, and others who are driven by fundamental mathematics and physics. We need both,” he explains. “When we stimulate theoretically inclined minds by framing plasma physics and fusion challenges as beautiful theoretical physics problems, we bring into the game incredibly brilliant students, people who we want to attract to fusion development but who wouldn’t have an engineer’s excitement about new advances in technology.

    “And they will stay on because they see not just the applicability of fusion but also the intellectual challenge,” he says. “That’s key.”

    See the full article here .


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

     
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