South Korea Fusion Breakthrough: 20s 100 Million Degree Fusion Plasma With No Instability

Essay by Eric Worrall

South Korean Nuclear Fusion researchers have claimed to have sustained a stable confined burning plasma at fusion temperatures for 20 seconds, producing 100Kj of fusion energy.

South Korea takes massive step toward sustainable nuclear fusion reactions

Plasma at over 100 million kelvin for 20 seconds adds to list of noteworthy fusion breakthroughs in 2022

Lindsay Clark Thu 8 Sep 2022  // 19:13 UTC 

Scientists in Korea have succeeded in sustaining a plasma gas at 100 million kelvin for up to 20 seconds without significant instabilities, a feat thought to be a significant step forward in the quest for a sustainable nuclear fusion reaction.

Korea Superconducting Tokamak Advanced Research, or KSTAR, operates using a hydrogen plasma confined by a magnetic field.

But researchers have so far been unable to achieve a sustainable fusion performance, which requires a high temperature above 100  million kelvin and sufficient control of instabilities to ensure steady-state operation in the order of tens of seconds.

Researchers at the facility now report they have overcome the threshold. “Here we report experiments at the Korea Superconducting Tokamak Advanced Research device producing a plasma fusion regime that satisfies most of the above requirements,” a research paper published in Nature said.

“A low plasma density combined with a moderate input power for operation is key to establishing this regime by preserving a high fraction of fast ions. This regime is rarely subject to disruption and can be sustained reliably even without a sophisticated control, and thus represents a promising path towards commercial fusion reactors,” the authors said.

Read more: https://www.theregister.com/2022/09/08/korea_sustained_fusion/

The nature paper ;

Published: 

A sustained high-temperature fusion plasma regime facilitated by fast ions

H. HanS. J. ParkC. SungJ. KangY. H. LeeJ. ChungT. S. HahmB. KimJ.-K. ParkJ. G. BakM. S. ChaG. J. ChoiM. J. ChoiJ. GwakS. H. HahnJ. JangK. C. LeeJ. H. KimS. K. KimW. C. KimJ. KoW. H. KoC. Y. LeeJ. H. LeeJ. H. LeeJ. K. LeeJ. P. LeeK. D. LeeY. S. ParkJ. SeoS. M. YangS. W. Yoon & Y.-S. Na

Nature volume 609, pages 269–275 (2022) Cite this article

Abstract

Nuclear fusion is one of the most attractive alternatives to carbon-dependent energy sources1. Harnessing energy from nuclear fusion in a large reactor scale, however, still presents many scientific challenges despite the many years of research and steady advances in magnetic confinement approaches. State-of-the-art magnetic fusion devices cannot yet achieve a sustainable fusion performance, which requires a high temperature above 100 million kelvin and sufficient control of instabilities to ensure steady-state operation on the order of tens of seconds2,3. Here we report experiments at the Korea Superconducting Tokamak Advanced Research4 device producing a plasma fusion regime that satisfies most of the above requirements: thanks to abundant fast ions stabilizing the core plasma turbulence, we generate plasmas at a temperature of 100 million kelvin lasting up to 20 seconds without plasma edge instabilities or impurity accumulation. A low plasma density combined with a moderate input power for operation is key to establishing this regime by preserving a high fraction of fast ions. This regime is rarely subject to disruption and can be sustained reliably even without a sophisticated control, and thus represents a promising path towards commercial fusion reactors.

Read more: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-022-05008-1

There is still a long way to go until you can buy a Mr. Fusion reactor in your local Walmart, but this seems a promising development. Though to put that 100Kj of energy into perspective, this is the kind of energy you need to boil water for a large mug of coffee.

via Watts Up With That?

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September 9, 2022 at 05:05PM

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