Professor Umran Inan

Winter 2001-2002

Date: Wednesday, February 13, 2002
Time: 4:15-5:30 PM; Refreshments at 4:00 PM
Location: Bldg. 320, Rm #221

Recent developments and future directions in fusion energy science

Dr. Raffi Nazikian
Princeton Plasma Physics Lab, Princeton University


The achievement of an economically viable sustainable fusion energy source represents a grand scientific challenge for the 21st century. Progress in fusion requires continued innovation in confinement concepts, improved scientific understanding of the linear and nonlinear phenomena controlling macroscopic behavior, and the development of tools for the control of the plasma state. A key parameter for fusion performance is the plasma pressure, which relates directly to the fusion power production. Progress in understanding operational pressure limits in terms of linear stability and nonlinear secondary instabilities is discussed. New innovative methods for feedback control of performance-limiting instabilities has achieved dramatic success in recent years. The fusion gain, or power output over the input power, is a second key parameter for a viable fusion reactor. The fusion gain is related to the heat and particle transport across magnetic field lines which is mostly determined by turbulent fluctuations. The observation that the plasma can bifurcate into regimes of low and high thermal confinement has generated a great deal of interest in recent years. New theoretical and experimental tools are shedding light on the relation between small scale behavior and global plasma performance, leading to new ideas on how to achieve controllable enhanced confinement regimes. The success in the science of fusion cannot be sustained without the development of new facilities for testing and extending our improved understanding. Discussion of the status of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) and the current situation in the US program will be presented.