Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Contributing to the nuclear fusion project

Date:
April 27, 2012
Source:
Elhuyar Fundazioa
Summary:
Many regard nuclear fusion as the main energy source of the future. Among others, the ITER project is seeking to turn this venture into reality and is making use of the Tokamak reactor for this purpose. Reactors of this type have a number of control problems, and to solve them the electronics engineers have come up with some tools.

Many regard nuclear fusion as the main energy source of the future. Among others, the ITER project is seeking to turn this venture into reality and is making use of the Tokamak reactor for this purpose. Reactors of this type have a number of control problems, and to solve them the electronics engineers have come up with some tools.

This is not nuclear fission that is currently in use, but nuclear fusion, which many regard as the main energy source of the future. Among others, the ITER project (the third most expensive in history) is seeking to turn this venture into reality and is making use of the Tokamak reactor for this purpose. Reactors of this type and the plasma used in them to carry out fusion have a number of control problems, and to solve them the electronics engineer Goretti Sevillano has come up with some tools in her thesis defended at the University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU). Her thesis is entitled Herramientas para el control del plasma en reactores Tokamak de fusiσn nuclear: integraciσn Astra-Matlab y control en tiempo real (Tools for plasma control in Tokamak nuclear fusion reactors: Astra-Matlab integration and control in real time), and she has also had two papers published on the subject in the journals Informatica and Energy.

What happens in fission is that the nucleus of an atom is split; this is in stark contrast to fusion in which two lightweight atoms join together. Sevillano explains that the latter could generate more energy than fission, on which nuclear power stations are currently based. But that is not all. "In fission reactions there is a risk of explosion, but not in fusion, so nothing like what took place in Chernobyl or Fukushima would ever happen. What is more, the waste generated in fission has a very long life and is radioactive; but this is not the case in fusion. Likewise, the fuels are more accessible. Uranium or plutonium is used in fission, and its access is not so widespread; but in fusion, helium or tritium, which can be obtained from water or earth, are used," she explains. So her PhD thesis is another step along the path to fusion.

ASTRA-Matlab

Among all the reactors it is the Tokamaks studied by this researcher which are best placed in the race to obtain efficient energy from nuclear fusion. Sevillano has detailed how they function: "The materials used in fusion must have certain specific features, and these materials have to be turned into plasma. At the same time, the plasma has to be restricted to a limited space to enable the reaction to be generated and the energy to be used. To achieve this, magnetic confinement is applied in the case of the Tokamaks." In other words, the magnetic field creates lines that act as a wall to keep the plasma in the space where it is meant to remain. But the plasma and the device itself have several problems that have yet to be solved, and Sevillano has worked on some of them.

"To develop Tokamaks, many of the plasma's parameters must be controlled, as well as the whole device itself; the currents that are going to be used, the voltage, the intensity, etc. Until all these things are controlled, it will not be possible to use these machines to produce marketable energy," the researcher points out. In connection with this, Sevillano has embedded a code known as ASTRA into the Matlab software; ASTRA is frequently used to simulate the behaviour of Tokamak reactors, and the embedding of this code into Matlab will facilitate the development of controllers suited to these devices. The control problems are of several kinds, but in this case some very specific parameters relating to the plasma have been explored in depth. "Control of the parameters is necessary to obtain the maximum energy possible from the plasma, and the amount of this energy that can be extracted is calculated on the basis of the current: the greatest amount of current possible has to be maintained during the longest time possible. That is why these parameters have to be controlled by means of the control, in turn, of the numerous coils and voltages within the structure," she adds.

Sevillano points out that this PhD thesis has produced only a single branch of what would be a complete tree. "All I have achieved is no more than a step towards doing more things. The aim of all these tasks is to design a machine capable of generating marketable energy within the ITER project," she explains. It is a long-term task: they have been working on nuclear fusion for the last 50 years and they calculate they will obtain some results around the year 2050.


Story Source:

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


Cite This Page:

Elhuyar Fundazioa. "Contributing to the nuclear fusion project." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 April 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120427100120.htm>.
Elhuyar Fundazioa. (2012, April 27). Contributing to the nuclear fusion project. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120427100120.htm
Elhuyar Fundazioa. "Contributing to the nuclear fusion project." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120427100120.htm (accessed September 18, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Stocks Hit All-Time High as Fed Holds Steady

Stocks Hit All-Time High as Fed Holds Steady

AP (Sep. 17, 2014) — The Federal Reserve signaled Wednesday that it plans to keep a key interest rate at a record low because a broad range of U.S. economic measures remain subpar. Stocks hit an all-time high on the news. (Sept. 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Space Race Pits Bezos Vs Musk

Space Race Pits Bezos Vs Musk

Reuters - Business Video Online (Sep. 16, 2014) — Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos' startup will team up with Boeing and Lockheed to develop rocket engines as Elon Musk races to have his rockets certified. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
MIT's Robot Cheetah Unleashed — Can Now Run, Jump Freely

MIT's Robot Cheetah Unleashed — Can Now Run, Jump Freely

Newsy (Sep. 16, 2014) — MIT developed a robot modeled after a cheetah. It can run up to speeds of 10 mph, though researchers estimate it will eventually reach 30 mph. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Manufacturer Prints 3-D Car In Record Time

Manufacturer Prints 3-D Car In Record Time

Newsy (Sep. 15, 2014) — Automobile manufacturer Local Motors created a drivable electric car using a 3-D printer. Printing the body only took 44 hours. 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:
from the past week

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