New Super H-mode regime could greatly increase fusion power

November 11, 2015
In this figure, the red signifies instability while blue is the quiescent region. Plasma density needs to increase along the narrow blue channel to reach the Super H-mode state. Credit: General Atomics.

Meet "Super H mode," a newly discovered state of tokamak plasma that could sharply boost the performance of future fusion reactors. This new state raises the pressure at the edge of the plasma beyond what previously had been thought possible, creating the potential to increase the power production of the superhot core of the plasma.

Discovery of this mode has led to a new line of research within plasma physics that aims to define a path to higher power. The route could prove particularly promising for ITER, the international experiment under construction in France to demonstrate the feasibility of fusion energy.

Researchers led by Wayne Solomon of the U.S. Department of Energy's Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) accessed the new state on the DIII-D National Fusion Facility that General Atomics operates for DOE in San Diego. Motivating their findings were theoretical predictions of a beyond H-mode, the current regime for high-level plasma performance.

Philip Snyder, director of Theory and Computational Science for General Atomics' Energy and Advanced Concepts Group, developed the predictions. His surprising discovery was that a model called EPED predicted more than one type of edge region in tokamak plasmas, with the previously unknown Super H-mode among them.

Such regions are called "pedestals" because they serve as ledges in H-mode plasmas from which the pressure drops off sharply. The higher and wider the pedestal the greater the density and pressure, which together act like thermoses to contain the man-made plasma at more than 100 million degrees C. "It's an important way that we can reach fusion conditions efficiently," said Snyder, whose model predicted a new pedestal height that corresponds to the super H-mode.

Verification of this prediction is what the researchers found. Their experiments reached the higher Super H-mode regime by steadily increasing density in a quiescent state that naturally avoids pedestal collapses. The results caused the to follow a narrow path to the Super H-mode, the physics equivalent of steering a boat through rocky shores.

Explore further: Lifting fusion power onto an (optimized) pedestal

More information: Abstracts: TP12.00090 The EPED Pedestal Model: Validation, Super H-Mode, and Core-Pedestal Coupling
Session Session TP12: Poster Session VII (ICF, Mathematical and Simulation Methods, Basic Theory, DIII-D II, Boundary and Plasma-Material Interactions)

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Hyperfuzzy
1 / 5 (1) Nov 11, 2015
Still don't have it! Fusion takes energy, fission releases energy. To enhance fusion, create very close proximity for defined e&p & low energy. Plasma, really? Every atom is a containment, figure it out. Too simple, people!
Hyperfuzzy
1 / 5 (1) Nov 11, 2015
Pretty sure if successful, fusion within the regime, the high energy will create instability, i.e. the curve, not literally correct; it should be proximity vs pressure. High energy is a detractor!
del2
5 / 5 (2) Nov 11, 2015
Fusion takes energy

Fusion (of certain light nuclei) releases energy. It's getting sustained, controllable fusion that is the problem.
I don't understand the rest of your comment; it doesn't make sense.

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