Discovery Of New Plasma Confinement State Holds The Key To Generating Fusion Energy

Posted: Nov 12 2015, 11:15pm CST | by , in News | Latest Science News

 
New Plasma Confinement State Discovery Holds the key to Generate Fusion Energy
Credit: Department of Advanced Energy

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Research on high-temperature and high-density plasma confinement by magnetic fields could help achieve fusion energy.

Scientists have discovered a new confinement state of plasma which can lead to the generation of fusion energy.

To create magnetic fusion energy, research on high-temperature and high density plasma confinement using magnetic fields have been carried out all around the world.

When plasma is heated to an extreme level hotter than Sun’s core, it releases excess energy which can be converted into electricity.

Led by Dr. Xianzu Gong of ASIPP and Dr. Andrea Garofalo of General Atomics (GA) in San Diego, a team of U.S. and Chinese researchers tested a ‘high-bootstrap current’ scenario to find the ideal tokamak configuration for producing fusion energy.

Tokamak is the most developed device so far which uses strong magnetic field to keep plasma away from the walls and the device is in the shape of a torus.

The team directly looked at the effects of reducing the plasma-wall in tokamak with high plasma pressure and large electrical current fraction. Moving the plasma ever closer to the vessel’s wall was risky indeed and can result running the plasma.

"This is unlike any other regime," said Dr. Garofalo. "It's very risky to move the plasma that close to the wall. The chief operator said 'You can't do that anymore, you're going to damage the machine,' so it was a struggle to prove our theory was correct."

But the gamble paid off. Bringing plasma closer to the wall, removed the plasma instabilities, leading to higher plasma pressure and rapid flow with external means, which was difficult to generate otherwise.

The remarkable experimentation will help provide better foundation for ITER plasmas which is an experimental fusion reactor build in France in collaboration with 35 countries.

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