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Magnetic Confinement Fusion

Artificial Intelligence in Fusion Research

Written by Tim Lash, Focus Fusion Society Contributor. Prior FocusFusion.org posts covered the intersection between fusion research and artificial intelligence (AI). AI is likely to become more important to the advancement of fusion research. Recent reports highlight more projects bringing AI to bear on the challenge of viable fusion power generation. A December report provides insight into what researchers are calling a Fusion Recurrent Neural Network (FRNN). Scientists affiliated with Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) are trying to craft a neural network that predicts failure of magnetic containment in tokamak fusion reactors. The common tokamak design in fusion research is prone to reactor damage if hot plasma escapes containment. Julian Kates-Harbeck is the lead architect for software that uses artificial […]

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Better Heating of Magnetically Confined Plasmas

Written by Tim Lash, Focus Fusion Society Contributor. A few weeks ago we wrote about researchers adding impurities to fusion fuel to improve outcomes. In that case noble gasses added to the fuel prevented runaway electron currents. A new report details another study of fusion fuel additives. In this case scientists examine ways to improve radio frequency (RF) plasma heating. This work recently appeared in the journal Nature Physics. The team of researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) explain how adjusting the nuclear fusion “recipe” allowed them to increase the energy output. Replicated results produced by researchers at the largest active fusion device in Europe, the Joint European Torus (JET), confirm this finding. Nuclear fusion attempts to bring […]

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More Stellarator News

Written by Tim Lash, Focus Fusion Society Contributor. Recently we posted an update on the Wendelstein 7-X fusion reactor at the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics (MPIPP) in Greifswald Germany. This week sees more news on the stellarator front. Southwest Jiaotong University announced plans to build a stellarator fusion reactor. This undertaking will be in partnership with Japan’s National Institute for Fusion Science (NIFS). NIFS already operates a similar reactor in Japan called the Large Helical Device. NIFS and Southwest Jiaotong University will design, implement and construct, plasma heating, technical diagnostics and ultimately conduct plasma experiments. They will then introduce the helical device to be called CFQS (Chinese First Quasi-axisymmetric Stellarator). This announcement is on the heels of another […]

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Stellarator News

Written by Tim Lash, Focus Fusion Society Contributor. Edited by Ignas Galvelis, Supervising Director. At the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics (MPIPP) in Greifswald Germany, a team of scientists and engineers continue working to bring the worlds largest stellarator online. A stellarator is a type of toroidal magnetic confinement fusion reactor. The most common form of toroidal fusion reactor is a tokamak. Tokamaks are shaped like ordinary doughnuts. Stellarators retain the basic doughnut shape but twists its way around to make the loop. This design, while far more complex, allows physicists to craft more ideal magnetic confinement fields. The machine under construction in Germany is called the Wendelstein 7-X (W7-X). The W7-X was first powered up at the end […]

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Fusion Rocketry

Written by Tim Lash, Focus Fusion Society Contributor. Edited by Ignas Galvelis, Supervising Director. A team of Princeton University researchers hope to create fusion power rockets. One proposed use would be to enable rapid mission payloads to Pluto. The New Horizons spacecraft ended a nine year journey to Pluto in 2015 with a dramatic flyby. A fusion driven mission could deliver both an orbiter and lander to Pluto in just four years. Princeton Satellite Systems (PSS) and the Princeton Plasma Physics Lab (PPPL) are collaborating to develop Direct Fusion Drive: a revolutionary direct-drive, fusion-powered rocket engine. The rocket engine being designed by PSS uses magnetic confinement to create a ring of plasma. This plasma would be composed of deuterium and […]

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Application of High-Strength magnetic confinement materials at MIT

Written by Tim Lash, Focus Fusion Society Contributor. Edited by Ignas Galvelis, Supervising Director. MIT Assistant Professor Zach Hartwig is attempting to leverage his work with new high-temperature superconducting magnets to improve many endeavors in high energy physics. His primary focus using these new magnets aims to improve the prospects for viable fusion power. Magnetic confinement nuclear fusion reactors depend on strong magnetic fields. Applying new magnet technologies that produce fields with record strength will make smaller reactors possible. These smaller reactors will still be able to yield output power equal to the largest reactors currently being built. REBCO (a single-crystal material composed of yttrium, barium, copper, oxygen and other elements) is a new superconducting material that has the potential […]

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