Recent research on plasma heating by the Fusion Group

Plasma Physics and Controlled Fusion logo.

The Fusion Group has been working hard to improve our understanding of the deuterium-tritium (D-T) plasmas carried out at JET during late 2021. These experiments broke the world fusion energy record and are providing us with invaluable physical insight in preparation of ITER’s experiments.

Our research has culminated in two recent papers published at Plasma Physics and Controlled Fusion. One tackles the optimization of the H and 3He minority heating schemes for D-T, while the other describes a recent upgrade we developed for the calculation of the diffusion operator. A brief overview is given together with their links to the journal version as follows.

Read more

Fusion likes breaking records!

Images of the different experimental fusion devices, from left to right: KSTAR, NIF, EAST.

On a previous post, we commented about the recent record achieved by the Joint European Torus (JET), in a unique set of D-T experiments. In this post, we would like to add several other records set by other fusion devices. In particular, we will be talking about the Korea Superconducting Tokamak Advanced Research (KSTAR), the Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) and the National Ignition Facility (NIF). By all means, we can say that the period from 2020 up to the near future, will be remembered as a period of success and milestone fulfillment in the fusion field.

A distinction should be made between KSTAR, EAST and NIF as the physical mechanism to reach nuclear fusion is different. While KSTAR and EAST are two superconducting tokamaks, i.e. they rely on superconducting magnets which constraint the plasma shape and dynamics, NIF is a fusion device consisting of several lasers which heat and compress a small amount of a hydrogen (or an isotope as deuterium) pellet. Both mechanisms are known in the fusion field as, magnetic confinement fusion and intertial confinement fusion, respectively. Let’s now have a look at their respective records.

Read more

JET brings the power of the Sun closer to Earth

News on the JET record (credit: EUROfusion).

We have been talking in our earlier blog posts (here and here) about the relevance of the deuterium-tritium (D-T) fuel mixture in a magnetic confinement fusion device, such as a tokamak. The intrinsic property that makes this mixture so interesting is the higher fusion cross section as compared to other ion combinations at a relatively “low” energy (around 100 keV which is already 10 times the temperature of the centre of the Sun). In other words, D-T maximizes the number of fusion reactions, which is after all, what we are looking for.

The Joint European Torus (JET) has recently finished its second D-T campaign (DTE2 as we refer to it in more technical contexts), and the results could not have been better. This culminates a huge effort from the nuclear fusion community which makes the way towards the success of ITER smoother.

Read more

Teaching at the UPC’s fusion MSc course

As in its previous editions, our Fusion Group is contributing several lectures to the fusion course imparted within the Nuclear Engineering MSc at UPC. The course gives an overview of plasma physics and fusion technology, presenting a broad scope of topics. The topics are taught by experts in each of the fusion fields covered, with external lecturers mainly provided by Fusion for Energy (F4E) and our Fusion Group at BSC.

Read more

Our recent collaboration selected as featured paper in Physics of Plasmas

Since the theoretical description of the three-ion scheme back in 2015 [1], the scheme has been tested and proven in several fusion devices such as Alcator C-Mod, JET and AUG. The main idea underlying this radiofrequency (RF) scheme comes from the polarization of the wave. In essence, what is sought, is the maximization of the electric field component that rotates as the ions do around the magnetic field. This condition is typically reached when the resonance location of the minority ion species coincides with the so-called L-cutoff of the wave. The result? A highly dominant ion absorption of the wave and a very energetic ion distribution.

We are very happy to announce that the recently published paper Physics and applications of three-ion ICRF scenarios for fusion research has been selected as a featured paper in the prestigious Physics of Plasmas journal, where two members of our group, Mervi Mantsinen and Dani Gallart, have collaborated. The paper presents many of the advances on this scheme during these last years, especially from the experimental point of view and the developed theoretical framework.

Read more