Wave power could contain fusion plasma

January 09, 2011

Researchers at the University of Warwick's Centre for Fusion Space and Astrophysics and the UK Atomic Energy Authority's Culham Centre for Fusion Energy, may have found a way to channel the flux and fury of a nuclear fusion plasma into a means to help sustain the electric current needed to contain that very same fusion plasma.

The researchers used large scale computer simulations to confirm a longstanding prediction by US researchers that high energy alpha particles born in fusion reactions will be key to generating fusion power in the next planned generation of tokamaks.

The Warwick and Culham researchers were modelling the interaction of particular types of waves with alpha particles in a fusion plasma when they found that an expected type of wave was forming naturally within the plasma and that it was quickly growing in strength. As the simulation progressed the wave began to transfer energy from alpha particles to make an electric current which could help confine the plasma.

This particular type of waves, LH (lower hybrid) waves, are in fact often used by fusion researchers to generate the electric current required to confine and control the plasma - but these waves are usually generated externally to the plasma and channelled into it to create the current. The Warwick researchers' model suggests that in fact these waves will occur naturally in the plasmas of fusion reactors and in doing so may be able to help exploit the energy of alpha particles. This would open up far more efficient methods of creating and sustaining the current needed to confine the plasma and could provide a mechanism that would confirm earlier predictions by US researchers, that the energy of Alpha particles would be key to the development of fusion energy.

This work was only possible using the recently commissioned large scale computing facilities at the University of Warwick supported by EPSRC, in particular for theoretical work supporting fusion energy generation.

University of Warwick researcher Professor Sandra Chapman said: "These large scale computer simulations capture the plasma dynamics in unprecedented detail and have opened up an exciting new area."
The research paper entitled : Electron Current Drive by Fusion-Product-Excited Lower Hybrid Drift Instability has just been published in Physical Review Letters and is by J. W. S. Cook and Professor Sandra Chapman at the Centre for Fusion Space and Astrophysics, Department of Physics, Warwick University, Coventry CV4 7AL, United Kingdom; and Professor R. O. Dendy of Euratom/CCFE Fusion Association, Culham Science Centre, Abingdon, Oxfordshire.

This work is part of a significant initiative funded by the EPSRC (The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council) to support the science underpinning fusion energy in the UK.

For further Information please contact:
Professor Sandra Chapman
Centre for Fusion, Space and Astrophysics
Department of Physics
University of Warwick
Tel: +44(0)2476 523390

Peter Dunn, Head of Communications
University of Warwick +44(0)2476 523708
or mobile/cell +44(0)7767 655860
twitter: @peterjdunn

University of Warwick

Related Plasma Articles from Brightsurf:

Plasma treatments quickly kill coronavirus on surfaces
Researchers from UCLA believe using plasma could promise a significant breakthrough in the fight against the spread of COVID-19.

Fighting pandemics with plasma
Scientists have long known that ionized gases can kill pathogenic bacteria, viruses, and some fungi.

Topological waves may help in understanding plasma systems
A research team has predicted the presence of 'topologically protected' electromagnetic waves that propagate on the surface of plasmas, which may help in designing new plasma systems like fusion reactors.

Plasma electrons can be used to produce metallic films
Computers, mobile phones and all other electronic devices contain thousands of transistors, linked together by thin films of metal.

Plasma-driven biocatalysis
Compared with traditional chemical methods, enzyme catalysis has numerous advantages.

How bacteria protect themselves from plasma treatment
Considering the ever-growing percentage of bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics, interest in medical use of plasma is increasing.

A breakthrough in the study of laser/plasma interactions
Researchers from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and CEA Saclay have developed a particle-in-cell simulation tool that is enabling cutting-edge simulations of laser/plasma coupling mechanisms.

Researchers turn liquid metal into a plasma
For the first time, researchers at the University of Rochester's Laboratory for Laser Energetics (LLE) have found a way to turn a liquid metal into a plasma and to observe the temperature where a liquid under high-density conditions crosses over to a plasma state.

How black holes power plasma jets
Cosmic robbery powers the jets streaming from a black hole, new simulations reveal.

Give it the plasma treatment: strong adhesion without adhesives
A Japanese research team at Osaka University used plasma treatment to make fluoropolymers and silicone resin adhere without any adhesives.

Read More: Plasma News and Plasma Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.