Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Taming thermonuclear plasma with a snowflake

Date:
November 8, 2010
Source:
American Physical Society
Summary:
Physicists are one step closer to solving one of the grand challenges of magnetic fusion research -- how to reduce the effect that the hot plasma has on fusion machine walls (or how to tame the plasma-material interface).

This is a "snowflake" divertor -- a novel plasma-material interface is realized in the National Spherical Torus Experiment.
Credit: V. Soukhanovskii, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

Physicists working on the National Spherical Torus Experiment (NSTX) at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory are now one step closer to solving one of the grand challenges of magnetic fusion research -- how to reduce the effect that the hot plasma has on fusion machine walls (or how to tame the plasma-material interface).

Some heat from the hot plasma core of a fusion energy device escapes the plasma and can interact with reactor vessel walls. This not only erodes the walls and other components, but also contaminates the plasma -- all challenges for practical fusion. One method to protect machine walls involves divertors, chambers outside the plasma into which the plasma heat exhaust (and impurities) flow. A new divertor concept, called the "snowflake," has been shown to significantly reduce the interaction between hot plasma and the cold walls surrounding it.

Strong magnetic fields shape the hot plasma in the form of a donut in a magnetic fusion plasma reactor called a tokamak. As confined plasma particles move along magnetic field lines inside the tokamak, some particles and heat escape because of instabilities in the plasma. Surrounding the hot plasma is a colder plasma layer, the scrape-off layer, which forms the plasma-material interface. In this layer, escaped particles and heat flow along an "open" magnetic field line to a separate part of the vessel and enter a "divertor chamber." If the plasma striking the divertor surface is too hot, melting of the plasma-facing components and loss of coolant can occur. Under such undesirable conditions, the plasma-facing component lifetime would also be an issue, as they would tend to wear off too quickly.

While the conventional magnetic X-point divertor concept has existed for three decades, a very recent theoretical idea and supporting calculations by Dr. D.D. Ryutov from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory have indicated that a novel magnetic divertor -- the "snowflake divertor" -- would have much improved heat handling characteristics for the plasma-material interface. The name is derived from the appearance of magnetic field lines forming this novel magnetic interface.

This magnetic configuration was recently realized in NSTX and fully confirmed the theoretical predictions. The snowflake divertor configuration was created by using only two or three existing magnetic coils. This achievement is an important result for future tokamak reactors that will operate with few magnetic coils. Because the snowflake divertor configuration flares the scrape-off layer at the divertor surface, the peak heat load is considerably reduced, as was confirmed by the divertor heat flux on NSTX. The plasma in the snowflake divertor, instead of heating the divertor surface on impact, radiated the heat away, cooled down and did not erode the plasma-facing components as much, thus extending their lifetime. Plasma TV images show more divertor radiation in the snowflake divertor plasmas in comparison with the standard plasmas. Importantly, the snowflake divertor did not have an impact on the high performance and confinement of the high-temperature core plasma, and even reduced the impurity contamination level of the main plasma.

These highly encouraging results provide further support for the snowflake divertor as a viable plasma-material interface for future tokamak devices and for fusion development applications.

Researchers are presenting their work at the 52nd annual meeting of the American Physical Society's Division of Plasma Physics, being held in Chicago Nov. 8-12.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Physical Society. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

American Physical Society. "Taming thermonuclear plasma with a snowflake." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 November 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101108071927.htm>.
American Physical Society. (2010, November 8). Taming thermonuclear plasma with a snowflake. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101108071927.htm
American Physical Society. "Taming thermonuclear plasma with a snowflake." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101108071927.htm (accessed September 30, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Argentina's Tax Evaders Detected, Hunted Down by Drones

Argentina's Tax Evaders Detected, Hunted Down by Drones

AFP (Sep. 30, 2014) Argentina doesn't only have Lionel Messi the footballer, it has now also acquired "Mesi" the drone system which monitors undeclared mansions, swimming pools and soy fields to curb tax evasion in the country. Duration: 01:18 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Do Video Games Trump Brain Training For Cognitive Boosts?

Do Video Games Trump Brain Training For Cognitive Boosts?

Newsy (Sep. 29, 2014) More and more studies are showing positive benefits to playing video games, but the jury is still out on brain training programs. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
CERN Celebrates 60 Years of Science

CERN Celebrates 60 Years of Science

Reuters - Business Video Online (Sep. 29, 2014) CERN, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research, celebrates 60 years of bringing nations together through science. As Joanna Partridge reports from inside the famous science centre it's also planning to turn the Large Hadron Collider particle accelerator back on after an upgrade. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
This 'Invisibility Cloak' Is Simpler Than Most

This 'Invisibility Cloak' Is Simpler Than Most

Newsy (Sep. 28, 2014) Researchers from the University of Rochester have created a type of invisibility cloak with simple focal lenses. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins