Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Spherical Tokamaks

Spherical tokamaks - can they beat out ITER to be the first to be a viable fusion generator?

This article describe the two separate efforts at using this technique in building such a facility, and it appears to not cost more than $10 billion and years of delay (yes, I'm looking at you, ITER!).

That's where the spherical tokamaks come in. The delightfully exotic term refers to a kind of device that can contain superheated plasma in powerful magnetic fields. These devices represent our species' best shot at generating those stellar temperatures we need to achieve nuclear fusion.

Right now, the two most advanced spherical tokamaks in the world are the National Spherical Torus Experiment-Upgrade (NSTX-U) at PPPL, and the Mega Ampere Spherical Tokamak (MAST) at the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy in the U.K.

At this stage, we need as many alternatives as we can afford. I'm glad we're not putting all our eggs in ITER, because I'm getting tired of it already.



Douglas Natelson said...

To get a sense of timescale: As part of my summer job with the Westinghouse Science and Technology Center, I was working on computer models of the helium cooling system for the D magnets of the ITER reactor in 1993. The other project I worked on for them the previous summer was modeling of the cooling system for the collider dipole magnets for the SSC, and you can see how well that worked out.

ZapperZ said...

Whoa, Doug! I think you bring bad luck!



Douglas Natelson said...

It's a gift.