An explanation for the mysterious onset of a universal process (Physics of Plasmas)

By John Greenwald, Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory Communications Scientists have proposed a groundbreaking solution to a mystery that has puzzled physicists for decades. At issue is how magnetic reconnection, a universal process that sets off solar flares, northern lights and cosmic gamma-ray bursts, occurs so much faster than theory says should be possible. The answer, … Continue reading An explanation for the mysterious onset of a universal process (Physics of Plasmas)

Major next steps proposed for fusion energy based on the spherical tokamak design (Nuclear Fusion)

By John Greenwald, Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory Among the top puzzles in the development of fusion energy is the best shape for the magnetic facility — or “bottle” — that will provide the next steps in the development of fusion reactors. Leading candidates include spherical tokamaks, compact machines that are shaped like cored apples, compared … Continue reading Major next steps proposed for fusion energy based on the spherical tokamak design (Nuclear Fusion)

Compressing turbulence to improve inertial confinement fusion experiments (PRL)

By John Greenwald, Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory Physicists have long regarded plasma turbulence as unruly behavior that can limit the performance of fusion experiments. But new findings by researchers associated with the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) and the Department of Astrophysical Sciences at Princeton University indicate that turbulent swirls … Continue reading Compressing turbulence to improve inertial confinement fusion experiments (PRL)

PPPL physicists simulate innovative method for starting up tokamaks without using a solenoid (Nuclear Fusion)

By Raphael Rosen, PPPL Office of Communications Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) have produced self-consistent computer simulations that capture the evolution of an electric current inside fusion plasma without using a central electromagnet, or solenoid. The computer simulations of the process, known as non-inductive current ramp-up, were performed … Continue reading PPPL physicists simulate innovative method for starting up tokamaks without using a solenoid (Nuclear Fusion)

Using powerful computers, physicists uncover mechanism that stabilizes plasma (Physical Review Letters)

By Raphael Rosen, Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory Communications A team of physicists led by Stephen Jardin of the U.S. Department of Energy's Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) has discovered a mechanism that prevents the electrical current flowing through fusion plasma from repeatedly peaking and crashing. This behavior is known as a "sawtooth cycle" and can … Continue reading Using powerful computers, physicists uncover mechanism that stabilizes plasma (Physical Review Letters)

PPPL physicists propose new plasma-based method to treat radioactive waste (Journal of Hazardous Materials)

By Raphael Rosen, Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory Communications Physicists at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) are proposing a new way to process nuclear waste that uses a plasma-based centrifuge. Known as plasma mass filtering, the new mass separation techniques would supplement chemical techniques. It is hoped that this combined … Continue reading PPPL physicists propose new plasma-based method to treat radioactive waste (Journal of Hazardous Materials)

Identifying new sources of turbulence in spherical tokamaks (Physics of Plasmas)

By John Greenwald, Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory Communications For fusion reactions to take place efficiently, the atomic nuclei that fuse together in plasma must be kept sufficiently hot. But turbulence in the plasma that flows in facilities called tokamaks can cause heat to leak from the core of the plasma to its outer edge, causing … Continue reading Identifying new sources of turbulence in spherical tokamaks (Physics of Plasmas)

Scientists propose an explanation for electron heat loss in fusion plasmas (Physical Review Letters)

By Raphael Rosen, Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory Creating controlled fusion energy entails many challenges, but one of the most basic is heating plasma – hot gas composed of electrons and charged atoms – to extremely high temperatures and then maintaining those temperatures. Now scientist Elena Belova of the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Princeton Plasma … Continue reading Scientists propose an explanation for electron heat loss in fusion plasmas (Physical Review Letters)

X marks the spot: Researchers confirm novel method for controlling plasma rotation to improve fusion performance (Physical Review Letters)

By Raphael Rosen, Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory Rotation is key to the performance of salad spinners, toy tops, and centrifuges, but recent research suggests a way to harness rotation for the future of mankind's energy supply. In papers published in Physics of Plasmas in May and Physical Review Letters this month, Timothy Stoltzfus-Dueck, a physicist … Continue reading X marks the spot: Researchers confirm novel method for controlling plasma rotation to improve fusion performance (Physical Review Letters)

Giant structures called plasmoids could simplify the design of future tokamaks (Physical Review Letters)

By Raphael Rosen, Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) have for the first time simulated the formation of structures called "plasmoids" during Coaxial Helicity Injection (CHI), a process that could simplify the design of fusion facilities known as tokamaks. The findings, reported in the journal … Continue reading Giant structures called plasmoids could simplify the design of future tokamaks (Physical Review Letters)