Astronomy and Astrophysics

Progress in Bringing a Star to Earth
Antoine Cerfon, Courant Institute, New York University

Nuclear fusion is a promising option to help address the global energy challenge. It is a carbon-free source of energy, and its fuel is present in large enough quantities on Earth to meet the world’s energy needs for the foreseeable future. Furthermore, unlike conventional nuclear reactors, the operation of fusion reactors is intrinsically safe, does not require fissile material as a fuel source, and does not produce radioactive waste as part of its fuel cycle.

Fusion science has made tremendous progress over the last 70 years, leading to the current construction of ITER, an internationally funded experimental fusion reactor planned to deliver ten times the power it consumes. The success of ITER will be a significant milestone, demonstrating that net fusion power can be routinely produced and that fusion systems can be successfully engineered at commerical reactor scales. It will also be the basis for further science and engineering research focused on finding ways to make fusion an economical energy option for mankind.

Further progress in two specific directions is required in order to achieve this goal. They are the subject of the two presentations following this introductory talk. First, one needs to increase the power multiplication factor, from a factor of 10 as expected in ITER to a more desirable 50 or 100. This means that we must better understand and control the turbulent heat transfer mechanisms in the hot reactor core. Second, one needs to develop a scientific understanding of the complex interaction of the hot thermonuclear core and the materials in the surrounding wall. Controlling this interaction holds the solution to building a fusion device that can withstand the intense, steady-state heat and particle fluxes of a commercial fusion reactor.

Background Review Article:
Cowley, Steve. "Hot fusion." Physics world 23.10 (2010): 46-51.

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Astronomy and Astrophysics

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