Image credit: Alain Herzog/EPFL

U.S. scientists The Department of Energy’s (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) has refined the use of magnetic fields to improve the performance of donut-shaped compounds known as tokamaks. The advanced method protects the internal components from damage due to the instability of so-called “edge-localized modes” (ELMs) and allows the tokamak to work longer without interruption.

“Our main result is to show that our approach can compress ELMs while increasing plasma performance,” said Ricardo Shousha, a graduate student in the plasma management team at Princeton University’s Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department affiliated with PPPL. Shousha is the lead author of a report on the Physics of Plasmas.

Fusion, the energy that drives the sun and the stars, combines elements of light in plasma — a hot, heated substance made up of free electrons and atomic nuclei — that produce enormous amounts of energy. Scientists seek to reunite the Earth with an endless stream of energy to produce electricity.

The researchers used the Korean Superconducting Tokamak Advanced Research Center (KSTAR) to study conditions where the plasma center was hot and congested. This desirable condition, known as H-mode, can occur when there is a sharp split between the center and the hard edge; scientists want plasma to be in H mode because it produces a highly efficient mixing reaction. But because the temperature and density of the two regions are so different, ELM volatility occurs at the border, just as thunderstorms may form at the confluence of tropical and subtropical areas. Such disturbances may result in spurts such as solar flares and large plasma burps emanating from the sun’s surface.

If these events occur in tokamaks, they can damage the inner walls and parts, which require the machine to shut down to repair. The risk is very high for ITER, an international tokamak built in Cadarache, France, to prove the possibility of merging as a significant and non-carbonated energy source, as that tool will create the hottest and most concentrated plasma of the current tokamak do.

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Alice is the Chief Editor with relevant experience of three years, Alice has founded Galaxy Reporters. She has a keen interest in the field of science. She is the pillar behind the in-depth coverages of Science news. She has written several papers and high-level documentation.

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