Hundred million degree fluid key to fusion

March 7, 2016, Australian National University
Matthew Hole (L) and Zhisong Qu are at the virtual control room for overseas fusion experiments in RSPE. Credit: Stuart Hay, ANU

Scientists developing fusion energy experiments have solved a puzzle of why their million-degree heating beams sometimes fail, and instead destabilise the fusion experiments before energy is generated.

The solution used a new theory based on fluid flow and will help scientists in the quest to create gases with temperatures over a hundred million degrees and harness them to create clean, endless, carbon-free energy with .

"There was a strange wave mode which bounced the heating beams out of the experiment," said Zhisong Qu, from The Australian National University (ANU), lead author of the research paper published in Physical Review Letters.

"This new way of looking at burning plasma physics allowed us to understand this previously impenetrable problem," said Mr Qu, a theoretical physicist in ANU Research School of Physics and Engineering.

Nuclear of hydrogen into helium is the process that powers stars. It promises a large-scale energy source on Earth, based on fuel extracted from water, and does not create the long-term waste that uranium-based nuclear fission does.

The breakthrough is in , in which hydrogen is heated until it is a plasma 10 times hotter than the centre of the sun, and held in place by strong magnetic fields until occur.

However, plasma this hot is extremely turbulent and can behave in surprising ways that baffle scientists, at times becoming unstable, and dissipating before any fusion reactions can take place.

Mr Qu developed a simpler theory for plasma behaviour based on and was able to explain an unstable wave mode that had been observed in the United States' largest fusion experiment, DIII-D.

Collaborator Dr Michael Fitzgerald, from the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy in the UK, said the new method made much more sense than previous brute-force theories that had treated plasma as individual atoms.

"When we looked at the as a fluid we got the same answer, but everything made perfect sense," said Dr Fitzgerald.

"We could start using our intuition again in explaining what we saw, which is very powerful."

Leader of the research group, Associate Professor Matthew Hole, from ANU Research School of Physics and Engineering said the theory's success with the DIII-D wave puzzle was just the beginning.

"It will open the door to understanding a whole lot more about fusion plasmas, and contribute to the development of a long term energy solution for the planet."

Associate Professor Hole said for him the quest for went beyond a sustainable planet.

"I'm a bit of a Trekky at heart - the only way you are going to travel to another star system is with a ," he said.

Explore further: Fusion energy boost for high-tech Australia

More information: Z. S. Qu et al. Energetic Geodesic Acoustic Modes Associated with Two-Stream-like Instabilities in Tokamak Plasmas, Physical Review Letters (2016). DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.116.095004

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katesisco
1 / 5 (9) Mar 07, 2016
10x hotter than the center of the sun which is presumed to have nuclear fusion. Resonance between two kinds of Alfven waves which siphon off the heat to the edge per the earlier article. I believe I read another article which claimed that the atomic structure was holding and responsible for bleeding off heat to the edge. Ready for explanation number three, four, five, etal.
katesisco
1.4 / 5 (9) Mar 07, 2016
https://www.youtu...tAptwjsE
Thank You W Thornhill . The sun is a focus of a cosmic electric discharge.
Mark Thomas
1.9 / 5 (11) Mar 07, 2016
Associate Professor Hole: "I'm a bit of a Trekky at heart - the only way you are going to travel to another star system is with a fusion reactor," he said.

Apparently Director Bigot and the leadership at ITER are big fans too, because they seem determined to ensure we don't get a workable fusion reactor until the 23rd century. The latest schedule slip for first plasma is 2020 to 2025. I would love to see Director Bigot's precise calculations proving ITER would need exactly five (5) more years to get started doing anything useful! By the way, don't expect D-T fusion until the 2030s, at the earliest.

There should be an investigation and public disclosure.
Captain Stumpy
4.4 / 5 (13) Mar 07, 2016
Ready for explanation number three, four, five, etal
@kate
before you denigrate scientists (which include engineers that are so revered to all eu promoters), you should go to the link below and actually LEARN about what is going on:
http://ocw.mit.ed...ophysics

you can also change the courses to strictly engineering and plasma physics

you should read the link: http://journals.a...6.095004

The sun is a focus of a cosmic electric discharge
if idiot boy thorny could prove that, neither YOU nor he would be using YOUTUBE

you would be linking a reputable peer reviewed journal study, like the one i linked above

Mark Thomas
2 / 5 (5) Mar 07, 2016
"High priority should be given to taking all actions necessary to restore the ITER 1st DT date to 2027, while maintaining the strength of the US domestic fusion program as was the original agreement and plan at the time the US decided to rejoin the ITER negotiations in 2003."

- Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory: http://fire.pppl.gov/

These continual ITER schedule slips are recklessly negligent at best and criminal at worst. If you believe the folks at MIT, ITER is already relying on old-tech, low magnetic field intensity superconducting coils. By the time ITER starts D-T fusion in the 2030s (at best), others will have probably surpassed them, including the Chinese.

"China spends big on nuclear fusion as French plan falls behind"

https://www.newsc...-behind/
Captain Stumpy
4.6 / 5 (10) Mar 07, 2016
These continual ITER schedule slips are recklessly negligent at best and criminal at worst
@Mark
start by arguing with Congress about funding
The Administration supports investments in research, development, and innovation that are critical to the Nation's economic growth, security, and competitiveness in the global marketplace... However, we ave a number of serious concerns about this legislation, which would underfund these important investments and includes highly problematic ideological riders
https://www.white...gers.pdf

science research takes money
IMHO -your arguments are about the failure to keep to what you think is a better schedule, but you are not considering the financial aspect at all

consider the cutbacks etc
comparing US to China isn't going to help, either... they have a different gov't and agenda...

send letters to your REP/SEN
Phys1
3 / 5 (4) Mar 07, 2016
The latest schedule slip for first plasma is 2020 to 2025.

2026 but it has not been decided yet.
You are quite harsh, why is that?
compose
Mar 07, 2016
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
Captain Stumpy
4.3 / 5 (6) Mar 07, 2016
You are quite harsh, why is that?
@Phys1
I can understand and relate to his frustrations
IMHO - when congress cuts back on funding to science, it makes me irritable... i believe much like Dr. Tyson on this issue: https://www.youtu...Db-cbadw

What NASA means to the future
https://www.youtu...NZENMG1o

what our problem is: we are CHOOSING to put our money elsewhere, and it is frustrating
mostly because our science technology (like from the NASA programs) generate income AND jobs... as well as MORE TECH
Mark Thomas
1 / 5 (3) Mar 07, 2016
"your arguments are about the failure to keep to what you think is a better schedule, but you are not considering the financial aspect at all"

"2026 but it has not been decided yet. You are quite harsh, why is that?"

Perhaps we should all be upset. ITER (correctly) holds up fusion as a leading candidate for a better future, then hypocritically keeps pushing the completion date for ITER further and further out while wasting up billions. If fusion really is that significant, the folks at ITER should act like it and live up to their commitments. Bigot was brought in to fix this and now he wants FIVE more years. Why? An oversight committee previously found mismanagement, so maybe we should stop accepting these massive delays on faith. If you went to your management and told them your project would take another five years on top of the ten years you are already behind, how do you think that would be received? Further delays at this point should be justified in detail.
Mark Thomas
3 / 5 (4) Mar 07, 2016
Thank you for your comment Captain Stumpy.

Mastery of fusion power would change everything from putting the brakes on global warming to establishing a human presence throughout the solar system. It would be easier to forgive the folks at ITER for their perpetual delays if they didn't understand that.
dnatwork
not rated yet Mar 07, 2016
10x hotter than the center of the sun which is presumed to have nuclear fusion. Resonance between two kinds of Alfven waves which siphon off the heat to the edge per the earlier article. I believe I read another article which claimed that the atomic structure was holding and responsible for bleeding off heat to the edge. Ready for explanation number three, four, five, etal.


Then maybe the secret is to have a chamber with no edges. The sun manages to have fusion at 1/10th the temperature, presumably because there is more pressure and nowhere for the plasma to escape to. Convection cells at the center would be confined by convection cells in the middle layers, with many layers before you get to the surface.

Maybe somebody who knows topology could do the math behind the needed shape. Apparently a simple toroid is not cutting it yet. Maybe a toroid inside another, rotating toroid, that sweeps the energy back to the center? Like a gyroscope, or that machine in Contact.
Osiris1
5 / 5 (1) Mar 08, 2016
ITER folks are probably right to slip dates a bit. The present rate of discovery of new facets of plasma behavior and predictability would make for an obsolete facility on the day it turned on or before if ITER's engineering and science teams were not allowed to take into account new advances to improve the odds for this verrry expensive facility. Like for instance new advances in superconductive generated magnetism, the better the magnet, the fusion yield increases exponentially.
Mark Thomas
1 / 5 (2) Mar 08, 2016
Osiris1, let's say you are right: 1. if additional delays make sense in 2016 then we surely were not ready in 2006 when the ITER accord was signed and frankly we've been sold an expensive bill of goods for the last 10 years; and 2. because ITER is not a power station (the "E" stands for experimental) and other facilities continue to be far more effective experimental facilities, that is where our efforts and funding should be focused until we reach the point where ITER actually makes sense. ITER should be canceled until such time it is actually justified and the funds diverted to more productive fusion facilities.

Let me suggest the underlying problem here is halfway measures completely fail us with ITER. The only logical choices are to push ITER to an earlier completion date so the facility can actually make a contribution as advertised, or cancel it outright. ITER is in the worst possible spot right now, eating up funds, producing nothing and casting doubt on fusion in general.
Mark Thomas
1 / 5 (2) Mar 08, 2016
Note to Bigot at ITER: No more halfway measures please, "Fish or cut bait."
gculpex
5 / 5 (1) Mar 08, 2016
Then maybe the secret is to have a chamber with no edges. The sun manages to have fusion at 1/10th the temperature, presumably because there is more pressure and nowhere for the plasma to escape to. Convection cells at the center would be confined by convection cells in the middle layers, with many layers before you get to the surface.

Maybe somebody who knows topology could do the math behind the needed shape. Apparently a simple toroid is not cutting it yet. Maybe a toroid inside another, rotating toroid, that sweeps the energy back to the center? Like a gyroscope, or that machine in Contact


They have, it was similar designed as a baseball with the seams the path of the coils. See 'Source book on Atomic Energy by Samuel Glasstone - third edition, 1967, page 555. (chap. 14.163)

Also, they have known about convention cells in the sun (grainy appearance of the surface).
gculpex
not rated yet Mar 08, 2016
convection cells...
FredJose
3 / 5 (2) Mar 11, 2016
To all those Trekkies out there: "Qu" to the rescue!

Jokes aside, these plasma problems demonstrate exactly the challenge the current Big Bang model has with the first stars being created spontaneously all by themselves.
There is just no explanation for how the first fusion reaction can be initiated and sustained, even when you've got enough density and gravitic pressure as required.
There is no containment in the vacuum of space; no guarantee of accumulating the required density or the required gravity build-up in the light of the so-called inflationary period. The fudge factors just mount up exponentially from that point on. One of which is the mysterious start and stopping of the inflation itself. There is no physical explanation for that fudgy animal. Here in this article we have real, observable and repeatable evidence that you cannot start a fusion reaction at all unless you have met some very specific pre-conditions, e.g. controlled external containment and ignition.
tblakely1357
5 / 5 (1) Mar 12, 2016
Cheap, inexhaustible fusion power is always 10-20 years out. I'm all for funding research for the betterment of humanity but after a half a century of perpetual promises and zero results you gotta cut the cord.
dnatwork
not rated yet Mar 30, 2016
I just saw another article here on how filter-feeding fishes use cross-flow filtering. Man-made cross-flow filters specifically avoid the kind of ridges you see in fish raker gills because they create disruptive vortices. It turns out the vortices are crucial to the proper functioning of the gill rakers; they concentrate the materials and sweep them off the filter.

Why is this relevant? I don't know, I'm just making intuitive connections. What I've read about tokamaks etc. is that the engineering work is largely around ways to eliminate turbulence in the plasma, to improve containment. But apparently, you can't get fusion by just squeezing on plasma in a chamber with smooth walls. The particles just don't want to fuse, they have mutual repulsion thanks (I'd guess) to their individual EM fields.

(Continued)
dnatwork
5 / 5 (1) Mar 30, 2016
Maybe it is essential to sweep the plasma through a bumpy space, precisely to create the vortices that they've been avoiding. Rather than dissipating the energies, they might separate particles by mass and generate extreme pressure gradients. 99.99% of your chamber will be low pressure, but the interfaces between cells will have particles at high pressure and high velocity. If moving through a field distends the EM field of a particle like the magnetic field of Earth in the solar wind, that would reduce the mutual repulsion. Now have two particles moving in opposite directions along the surfaces of neighboring cells. Bang?

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