News from the 53rd Annual Meeting of the APS Division of Plasma Physics
A team of scientists working at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) has found that increasing the amount of lithium coating in the wall of an experimental fusion reactor greatly improves the ability of experimentalists to contain the hot, ionized gas known as plasma. Adding more lithium also enhances certain plasma properties aiding the reaction, the researchers found.
“The lesson here for confining plasma is surprising and simple: When you use more and more lithium, the plasma confinement gets better and better,” said Rajesh Maingi, a physicist from the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) who is on long-term assignment to PPPL. “This is not what we expected to see. We thought the effect would taper off at some point. But it doesn’t. When it comes to fusion plasmas, it’s “the more, the merrier.'”
In principle, it should work for all fusion reactions that involve hydrogen in the tokamak or other long confinement schemes. Thank Tri-Alpha energy for this breakthrough. It was their work presented at APS-DPP last year that inspired this test. Lithium was the redheaded step child of fusion energy and now it is the king. Funny how one presentation can change the world. Go small science.