Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Mystery surrounding the harnessing of fusion energy unlocked

Date:
January 31, 2013
Source:
National Institute for Computational Sciences
Summary:
Scientists have answered the question of how the behavior of plasma -- the extremely hot gases of nuclear fusion -- can be controlled with ultra-thin lithium films on graphite walls lining thermonuclear magnetic fusion devices.

Dynamic in lithiated graphite: a) Experiments show that deuterium bombardment dramatically increases the surface oxygen; b) Simulation shell for the D-impact chemistry in lithiated and oxidized carbon.
Credit: Image courtesy of National Institute for Computational Sciences

The research of a multi-institutional team from the U.S., Japan, and France, led by Predrag S. Krstic of the Joint Institute for Computational Sciences and Jean Paul Allain of Purdue University has answered the question of how the behavior of plasma -- the extremely hot gases of nuclear fusion -- can be controlled with ultra-thin lithium films on graphite walls lining thermonuclear magnetic fusion devices.

Related Articles


"It is remarkable that seemingly insignificant lithium depositions can profoundly influence the behavior of something as powerful as fusion plasmas," Krstic said.

Krstic and his team explain their research in a paper titled "Deuterium Uptake in Magnetic Fusion Devices with Lithium Conditioned Carbon Walls," recently accepted for publication in Physical Review Letters.

"How lithium coatings on graphite surfaces control plasma behavior has largely remained a mystery until our team was able to combine predictions from quantum-mechanical supercomputer simulations on the Kraken and Jaguar systems at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and in situ experimental results from the Purdue group to explain the causes of the delicate tunability of plasma behavior by a complex lithiated graphitic system," Krstic said. "Surprisingly, we find that the presence of oxygen in the surface plays the key role in the bonding of deuterium, while lithium's main role is to bring the oxygen to the surface. Deuterium atoms preferentially bind with oxygen and carbon-oxygen when there is a comparable amount of oxygen to lithium at the surface. That finding well matches a number of controversial experimental results obtained within the last decade."

The performance demands on plasma-facing components and the other materials that would surround future fusion power reactors is one of the reasons the U.S. National Academy of Engineering has ranked the quest for fusion as one of the top grand challenges for engineering in the 21st Century. Harnessing energy from thermonuclear magnetic fusion has been challenged in part by the extreme environment of hot and dense plasma interacting with the boundary fusion reactor walls. The strong coupling between the plasma edge and the wall surface, which causes erosion of the wall material, retention of radioactive tritium, and pollution of the plasma, has been hampered by a lack of fundamental understanding of what takes place at the interface where the plasma and solid material meet.

Recent research in which lithium coatings have been deposited on a variety of metallic and graphitic surfaces has provided evidence that plasma strongly responds on the deposited films. In fact, the use of ultra-thin coatings of lithium on graphite has resulted in an unprecedented influence on plasma behavior, including control of hydrogen recycling -- one of the most important issues in the construction of future magnetic fusion-energy devices -- and extraordinary improvements in energy confinement.

The study of the lithium coatings also impacts many areas beyond magnetic fusion, including nanoelectronics, lithium batteries, computational materials science, bioengineering and biophysics, plasma physics, and theoretical physics and chemistry.

"This work can lead to improvement of the hydrogen-recycling properties of the fusion materials facing plasma, as well as advancements in other areas," Krstic said. "We hope that our finding will inspire future theoretical and experimental work in diverse applications not only with lithium coatings on various materials but also with combinations of other types of materials that are potentially good 'oxygen-getters' -- for example elements of the first two groups of the periodic system."

Authors of the paper are P.S. Krstic, J.P. Allain, C.N. Taylor, J. Dadras, S. Maeda, K. Morokuma, J. Jakowski, A. Allouche, and C.H. Skinner. Support for the project was provided by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE); the National Science Foundation (NSF), including its Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment; and the Japan Science and Technology Agency.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by National Institute for Computational Sciences. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

National Institute for Computational Sciences. "Mystery surrounding the harnessing of fusion energy unlocked." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 31 January 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130131095316.htm>.
National Institute for Computational Sciences. (2013, January 31). Mystery surrounding the harnessing of fusion energy unlocked. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130131095316.htm
National Institute for Computational Sciences. "Mystery surrounding the harnessing of fusion energy unlocked." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130131095316.htm (accessed October 25, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

IKEA Desk Converts From Standing to Sitting With One Button

IKEA Desk Converts From Standing to Sitting With One Button

Buzz60 (Oct. 24, 2014) IKEA is out with a new convertible desk that can convert from a sitting desk to a standing one with just the push of a button. Jen Markham explains. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Protective Suits Being Made in China

Ebola Protective Suits Being Made in China

AFP (Oct. 24, 2014) A factory in China is busy making Ebola protective suits for healthcare workers and others fighting the spread of the virus. Duration: 00:38 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Real-Life Transformer Robot Walks, Then Folds Into a Car

Real-Life Transformer Robot Walks, Then Folds Into a Car

Buzz60 (Oct. 24, 2014) Brave Robotics and Asratec teamed with original Transformers toy company Tomy to create a functional 5-foot-tall humanoid robot that can march and fold itself into a 3-foot-long sports car. Jen Markham has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Police Testing New Gunfire Tracking Technology

Police Testing New Gunfire Tracking Technology

AP (Oct. 24, 2014) A California-based startup has designed new law enforcement technology that aims to automatically alert dispatch when an officer's gun is unholstered and fired. Two law enforcement agencies are currently testing the technology. (Oct. 24) Video provided by AP
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