Beryllium, a hard, silvery metal long used in X-ray machines and spacecraft, is finding a new role in the quest to bring the power that drives the sun and stars to Earth. Beryllium is one of the two main materials used for the wall in ITER, a multinational fusion facility under construction in France to demonstrate the practicality of fusion power. Now, physicists from the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) and General Atomics have concluded that injecting tiny beryllium pellets into ITER could help stabilize the plasma that fuels fusion reactions.
Experiments and computer simulations found that the injected granules help create conditions in the plasma that could trigger small eruptions called edge-localized modes (ELMs). If triggered frequently enough, the tiny ELMs prevent giant eruptions that could halt fusion reactions and damage the ITER facility.
Scientists around the world are seeking to replicate fusion on Earth for a virtually inexhaustible supply of power to generate electricity. The process involves plasma, a very hot soup of free-floating electrons and atomic nuclei, or ions. The merging of the nuclei releases a tremendous amount of energy.
In the present experiments, the researchers injected granules of carbon, lithium, and boron carbide — light metals that share several properties of beryllium — into the DIII-D National Fusion Facility that General Atomics operates for the DOE in San Diego. “These light metals are materials commonly used inside DIII-D and share several properties with beryllium,” said PPPL physicist Robert Lunsford, lead author of the paper that reports the results in Nuclear Materials and Energy. Because the internal structure of the three metals is similar to that of beryllium, the scientists infer that all of these elements will affect ITER plasma in similar ways. The physicists also used magnetic fields to make the DIII-D plasma resemble the plasma as it is predicted to occur in ITER.
These experiments were the first of their kind. “This is the first attempt to try to figure out how these impurity pellets would penetrate into ITER and whether you would make enough of a change in temperature, density, and pressure to trigger an ELM,” said Rajesh Maingi, head of plasma-edge research at PPPL and a co-author of the paper. “And it does look in fact like this granule injection technique with these elements would be helpful.”
If so, the injection could lower the risk of large ELMs in ITER. “The amount of energy being driven into the ITER first walls by spontaneously occurring ELMs is enough to cause severe damage to the walls,” Lunsford said. “If nothing were done, you would have an unacceptably short component lifetime, possibly requiring the replacement of parts every couple of months.”
Lunsford also used a program he wrote himself that showed that injecting beryllium granules measuring 1.5 millimeters in diameter, about the thickness of a toothpick, would penetrate into the edge of the ITER plasma in a way that could trigger small ELMs. At that size, enough of the surface of the granule would evaporate, or ablate, to allow the beryllium to penetrate to locations in the plasma where ELMs can most effectively be triggered.
The next step will be to calculate whether density changes caused by the impurity pellets in ITER would indeed trigger an ELM as the experiments and simulations indicate. This research is currently underway in collaboration with international experts at ITER.
The researchers envision the injection of beryllium granules as just one of many tools, including using external magnets and injecting deuterium pellets, to manage the plasma in doughnut-shaped tokamak facilities like ITER. The scientists hope to conduct similar experiments on the Joint European Torus (JET) in the United Kingdom, currently the world’s largest tokamak, to confirm the results of their calculations. Says Lunsford, “We think that it’s going to take everyone working together with a bunch of different techniques to really get the ELM problem under control.”
Learn more: Tiny granules can help bring clean and abundant fusion power to Earth
The Latest on: Fusion power
[google_news title=”” keyword=”fusion power” num_posts=”10″ blurb_length=”0″ show_thumb=”left”]
via Google News
The Latest on: Fusion power
- A Sam Altman-backed startup is betting it can crack the code on fusion energy. Here's how it's trying to bring that to the masses by 2028.on June 3, 2023 at 4:40 am
Helion Energy wants to produce large amounts of electricity through fusion by 2028. Microsoft has agreed to buy 50 megawatts of electricity from Helion, which can power 40,000 homes. Helion's chief ...
- A step closer to making nuclear fusion a reality? San Diego’s General Atomics partners with UK companyon June 2, 2023 at 7:04 pm
General Atomics and Tokamak Energy to collaborate on advancing powerful magnet technology; GA will also assist Bay Area company on laser research ...
- Fusion power is coming back into fashionon June 2, 2023 at 1:28 am
These offer no resistance to the passage of electricity, and thus consume little power. Such tapes are now available commercially from several suppliers. Commonwealth Fusion also uses high-temperature ...
- University of Oxford partners with Imperial and York in £12 million fusion power industry projecton June 1, 2023 at 8:15 pm
A multi-institutional team will explore a new method for creating fusion power it hopes could eventually be scaled to provide safe, clean, and abundant energy. Support for the project comes from a ...
- Zap Energy lands DOE funding for design of fusion planton June 1, 2023 at 2:43 pm
Zap’s selection reflects our tangible progress toward an achievable, grid-ready power source,” Benj Conway, CEO and co-founder of Zap Energy, said in a release. “This pro ...
- Fusion Energy Projects Get Boost from DOE Fundingon June 1, 2023 at 9:59 am
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced the first round of awardees of the Milestone-Based Fusion Development Program. The program is the latest in ...
- ORNL to be involved in multiple DOE-funded commercial fusion energy development projectson June 1, 2023 at 5:00 am
The Fuel Pellet Fueling Laboratory at ORNL is part of a suite of fusion energy R&D capabilities and provides test equipment and related diagnostics for carrying out experiments to develop pellet ...
- Zap Energy lands $5M federal grant and ‘vote of confidence’ in pursuit of fusion poweron May 31, 2023 at 5:22 pm
The Seattle area’s Zap Energy will receive $5 million from a newly launched federal program supporting the commercial development of fusion power.
- Realta Fusion lights up with $9M seed for industrial heat led by Khosla Ventureson May 31, 2023 at 2:55 pm
Decarbonizing industrial heat isn't easy, but a startup thinks it can harness the power of the sun to make it happen.
- Advancing fusion energy: Researchers achieve record-breaking temperatures in a tokamakon May 31, 2023 at 3:50 am
A team of scientists have made a significant breakthrough having managed to achieve temperatures hotter than the sun's core in a tokamak.
via Bing News