Subscribe options

Select your newsletters:


Please enter your email address:

@

News & Media

Latest ITER Newsline

  • Worksite | A frontier town at the frontier of science

    Like a frontier town of the American West, the ITER site grew from nothing to a thriving community of several thousand people in less than one decade. The origi [...]

    Read more

  • EPICS | An arena for cooperation

    Like the system of nerves in the human body, ITER's control system will connect the ITER 'brain' (control room systems) to its eyes and ears (sensors and diagno [...]

    Read more

  • 8th ITER Robots | 49 teams from 29 schools

    Upon entering the gymnasium at the Lycée des Iscles, you can feel the energy. Seven hundred students, pulsating music, sounds of triumph (and disappointment). T [...]

    Read more

  • Image of the week | Comfy cocoon

    The protective cocoon that encases the cryostat's lower cylinder briefly acquired some curves, last week, as air was pumped into it to test for potential leaks. [...]

    Read more

  • On site | New building, two purposes

    Excavation has started for a concrete building designed for the distinct storage and handling requirements of ITER's beryllium components—in particular, the fir [...]

    Read more

Of Interest

See archived entries

Turning the tables on turbulence

Culham Centre for Fusion Energy, CCFE

Image of plasma fluctuations in the MAST divertor, showing where the filaments are brightest and instabilities are strongest. (Click to view larger version...)
Image of plasma fluctuations in the MAST divertor, showing where the filaments are brightest and instabilities are strongest.
Plasma turbulence has been the bane of fusion scientists for decades. But now they're getting their own back—images of plasma inside the MAST tokamak at Culham are showing how turbulence could actually tackle one of the hottest issues in fusion reactor design.

Plasma is a fascinating but frustrating fact of life for researchers developing fusion energy. The fourth state of matter, despite making up most of the universe, still holds many secrets for Earth-bound physicists. Controlling this incredibly hot ionised gas in a magnetic field within a tokamak is a proven way of triggering fusion reactions, but the downside is that the plasma becomes turbulent and unstable, making it difficult to confine—analogous to the creation of blobs in a lava lamp, or the break-up of clouds in the sky.

The MAST videos provide the closest view yet of plasma in the tokamak's exhaust system, the divertor, and may hold the key to dealing with the intense heat ejected from the fusion chamber onto surrounding surfaces. This is a major concern for researchers designing full-scale tokamak power plants.

The divertor, made from extremely tough materials, acts as a target for the waste plasma, and pumps helium ash and impurities out of the tokamak. But in a fusion power plant the divertor will be exposed to power loads of tens of megawatts per square metre (many times greater than a spacecraft re-entering the atmosphere), putting a strain on even the toughest of structures.

Continue reading on the CCFE website


return to the latest published articles