Nuclear fusion: a major hurdle

A major obstacle to industrial nuclear fusion, as planned in the Iter experimental reactor that will be located in Cadarache, near Marseille, has been crossed in the laboratory, announces an international team in the British monthly Nature Physics.

The researchers have experimentally demonstrated a solution that eliminates a major problem: erosion of the internal walls of the reactor due to heating caused by plasma instabilities. Currently, no material is able to withstand these sudden energy discharges. To avoid these instabilities, it would be enough to "slightly disturb the magnetic field" confining the gaseous mixture of deuterium and tritium carried at very high temperature, the plasma, to "bring this field to become chaotic on the edge", according to the authors of Article.

The researchers, working under the direction of Todd Evans of General Atomics (San Diego, Calif.), Believe that this could address an obstacle faced by all facilities working on fusion - tokamaks - such as Iter. Several institutions have been associated with this work, such as the Euratom-CEA Cadarache Association.

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