Nuclear Fusion: From Science Fiction to Science Fact
published: Feb. 10, 2015, recorded: February 2015, views: 4797
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"Nuclear Fusion: an eternal promise" or "Nuclear Fusion – always 50 years away" are texts one can read regularly in newspapers and journals. For the layman it is difficult put a finger behind the progress in the field of fusion research. This is especially because after more than 50 years of research still not even a milliwatt of electricity has been delivered to the grid. But are the abovementioned slogans correct? Since the start of fusion research many different challenges had to be overcome. For example: how can plasma be confined at temperatures that are 10 times higher than in the centre of the sun and how can we isolate this hot plasma from the walls of the reactor vessel such that they will not melt. Many of the original challenges have been overcome in the global fusion research. But still much research needs to be done to tackle the remaining challenges. To prioritize the research in Europe, a Fusion Roadmap has been developed with the international fusion reactor ITER and the International Fusion Materials Irradiation Facility (IFMIF) as main research facilities. We will first shortly explain the principle behind nuclear fusion. Subsequently, we will take the audience through several of the challenges which have been overcome in magnetic confinement fusion. We will present an overview of the challenges that are still remaining, along with a strategy to find adequate solutions. The focus of the talk will be on the international ITER tokamak. This device which is being erected in Cadarache in southern France is one of the world’s largest scientific experiments and is designed to get 10 times more fusion power as input power.
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