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Fusion challenges and solutions

Fusion challenges and solutions, Dean argues that now is the time for the fusion community to pull together to make fusion power a reality.

You can download a PDF of the 16-page supplement here and read the following articles:

JET set to break own fusion record
The completion of a €60m upgrade means the Joint European Torus can better mimic the technology needed for ITER, as Andy Extance reports.

Laser fusion shifts into HiPER drive
As an alternative to using magnets, laser-driven fusion power, is coming to the fore. Margaret Harris describes the current state of play.

Building career prospects in fusion
Greg Tallents and Howard Wilson showcase two new UK postgraduate training programmes educating the fusion scientists of the future.

Fusion supercomputer starts up
The High Performance Computer for Fusion, with a peak performance of 100 teraflops per second, could help get the best out of ITER’s plasmas, as Sibylle Günter explains.

FPA president predicts bright future
Stephen O Dean discusses his vision for fusion power, and how the research and education foundation Fusion Power Associates can help.

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One comment to Fusion challenges and solutions

  1. Ender

    As Andy Extance writes in his JET report; “Monitoring the development of fusion technology is not a pursuit for the impatient,” and I strongly sympathise with Stephen O. Dean, who has loyally stuck to the fusion cause for decades, both in fair and bad weather. I can very well understand the care in his answers, which I find very honest. Yet the supplement raises a number of interesting questions, and leaves some others aside, which cast serious doubt that we’ll see a working fusion reactor within the next several decades.
    Regarding the JET report, while the machine has certainly helped to advance fusion science considerably (along with a fleet of tokamaks around the world), and has helped scientists to understand why building a reactor is far more difficult than originally thought, it didn’t fulfil the original expectations of achieving breakeven Q = 1 (ratio of fusion power and heating power). It would be great if it fulfilled this particular goal before being decommissioned. The question of beryllium scarcity is also interesting. Will the JET beryllium tiles be needed for the ITER first wall?
    All this stresses the technological challenges of working with deuterium-tritium, and the necessity to build other burning plasma experiments besides ITER, not necessarily as large as it. This brings me to the questions not raised: ITER will work with a Q =10 at most, while a fusion reactor will need at least Q = 20. The physics involved in such burning plasmas is still terra-incognita, and regardless of all the simulation skills the fusion community has developed, simulations cannot replace experiments. Also, the use of lithium limiters in burning plasma experiments, which are not in the plans of ITER, should be tested. We need ITER indeed, but we also need other burning plasma experiments.
    The upcoming inertial confinement fusion experiments are by all means the most exciting there have been in decades, both from the physics and technological point of view, and open a new era in the field. However, as Margaret Harris correctly points out, the inertial fusion community is also still far from building a working reactor. Whether they will beat the magnetic fusion concept at that, is something worth watching in the future.


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