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This Is the First Fusion Power Plant to Generate Net Electricity


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"Here's the secret to the self-sustaining tokamak concept. Apr 5, 2021

  • Scientists have a new compact fusion plant that uses pressurized plasma.
  • Pressurizing plasma raises the energy density while reducing overall size.
  • The fusion plant is still far in the future

Could the future of nuclear fusion be a much smaller, self-sustaining tokamak reactor? Researchers at the General Atomics DIII-D National Fusion Facility, the largest nuclear fusion research facility in the U.S., think so. The secret is the pressurized plasma.

The scientists from DIII-D have designed a full “compact nuclear fusion plant” concept and detailed the plans in a new paper in Nuclear Fusion. In simulations, their 8-meter-wide pressurized plasma fusion concept is powerful enough to generate 200 megawatts (MW) of net electricity after the energy cost of the fusion itself.

This would be the very first fusion power plant to generate net electricity. The current best ratio is an output of 67 percent of the total energy required to power the reactor.

Engineers designed the plant using special physics modeling that mimics different parameters a real world compact fusion plant would experience. The scientists write:

“This physics-based approach leads to new insights and understanding of reactor optimization. In particular, the levering role of high plasma density is identified, which raises fusion performance and self-driven ‘bootstrap currents’, to reduce current drive demands and enable high pressure with net electricity at a compact scale.”

The key to this plant design is increasing the density of plasma by pressurizing it. This means more energy bang for your buck, reducing the footprint of the tokamak reactor itself as well as increasing its relative energy output.

Using predictive physics modeling, the scientists have illustrated that tokamak researchers are on the right path.

“These studies reaffirm the [advanced tokamak] concept for fusion energy, using integrated predictive physics models for the first time to project reactor performance and self-consistent plasma solutions, that demonstrate that a net electric and nuclear testing mission may be viable in a compact scale device,” they explain.

Where did the compact advanced tokamak design concept come from? “The approach combines state-of-the-art theory developed at GA with leading-edge computing by Oak Ridge National Laboratory scientists using the Cori supercomputer at the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC), and is based on development and testing of the underlying physics concepts on DIII-D,” General Atomics said in a statement.

Much more in the original article here: https://www.popularmechanics.com/science/energy/a35994805/first-fusion-power-plant-to-generate-net-electricity/?source=nl&utm_source=nl_pop&utm_medium=email&date=040521&utm_campaign=nl23415657&utm_term=AAA -- High Minus Dormant and 90 Day Non Openers

Edited by RV_
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