Fusion to ITER - a quest for a golden fleece?

Jo Lister
Event Date and Time: 
Thu, 2018-03-01 16:00 - 17:00
Hennings 201
Local Contact: 
Douglas Scott/Alison Lister
Intended Audience: 

The physics of nuclear fusion as an energy source was laid down in the nuclear
binding energy formula and was demonstrated in the early 1950s with a test
explosion. Experiments were already underway in many countries in the 1940s to
produce "controlled" fusion in the laboratory. The Zeta experiment at the end of the
1950s drew a blank and interest in unlimited energy dissipated, although the
laboratory research continued. In the late 1960s, the Russians made a breakthrough
and achieved what were considered as amazing temperatures in their "tokamak"
magnetic confinement device, which has dominated progress since then. Enthusiasm
increased, countries became competitive, built bigger machines, culminating in the
largest, the JET tokamak in the UK. However, fusion had another card up her sleeve
exposed in the early 1980s and fusion plasmas simply rejected the heat applied to
achieve fusion temperatures. The only solution was to get bigger, more expensive and
more political, giving us ITER today, but consequently slower and later, due to
all three challenges. As a result this state of affairs, a number of ideas to branch out
differently are being followed. We shall discuss all these issues to understand
better what is going on with fusion today.

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