Justin and Jason wrote a nice book on fusion called The Future of Fusion Energy, and this episode is based on this book. We start out by revisiting the breakthroughs that drove progress in fusion over the decades, including understanding stars, the tokamak, superconducting magnets, supercomputers and a number of specific aspects of plasma physics. We then look at the current state of fusion research as well as where it might go.
Superconductivity, the ability of a material to carry electrical current with zero resistance, is a surprising property of nature, which man has been able to exploit in many ways, in particular, for high-performance magnets. Those are used in magnetic resonance imagers, but also in colliders and fusion reactors. In this episode we discuss the basics of superconductivity and its uses with Pierre Bauer, a superconductor engineer at ITER.
During my trip to the US I also visited the Basic Plasma Science Facility at the UCLA in Los Angeles. I talked with the two professors who run the facility, Walter Gekelman and Troy Carter. We discuss the basics of plasma, the research questions of plasma physics and some of the experimental challenges. I also get (and report on) a tour through the facility, which was very impressive, mainly because the whole system was built by the team around Walter and Troy!
This episode is about ITER, the international project to build an experimental fusion plant in southern France. While on vacation in that area, I had the opportunity to visit the site and talk to Richard Pitts about many aspects of the project. We focus mostly on the physics and the engineering challenges, but also address some of the organizational aspects of this huge scientific project. Note that this episode is essentially a continuation of omega tau 022 – Nuclear Fusion at MPI für Plasmaphysik; I recommend to listen to this episode first, if you haven’t done so yet.
This episode covers my visit to the Max Plack Institut for Plasmaphysik where I spent a couple of hours with Matthias Reich talking about nuclear fusion. The episode has three parts. In part one we talk about the scienfic and physical basics of nuclear fusion. Part two covers some of the ways the MPI facilities work, and part three discusses the ASDEX Upgrade experiment at IPP in Garching.