- Latest research shows that spherical tokamaks are much more efficient at producing energy than conventional tokamaks
- The finding opens a path to rapid development of fusion power, made possible by the latest breakthroughs in high temperature superconducting magnets
OXFORD, England, March 2, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Tokamak Energy. A new analysis of experimental data from Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory and Culham Centre for Fusion Energy demonstrates that spherical tokamaks can have an efficiency ten times higher than conventional tokamaks such as JET and ITER.
High efficiency is an essential requirement for making electricity from compact, relatively inexpensive fusion power plants, and tokamaks are the leading fusion power device. With their compact "cored apple" rather than doughnut shape, spherical tokamaks are particularly attractive for fusion power production. They operate at a high ratio of plasma pressure to magnetic field and at high values of self-driven "bootstrap" current that spontaneously arises within the fusion plasma.
This new paper by Alan Costley and Steven McNamara published in Plasma Physics and Controlled Fusion (https://dx.doi.org/10.1088/1361-6587/abcdfc) shows for the first time how this difference impacts performance under reactor conditions. The paper is already one of the "most read" articles in the prestigious peer-reviewed journal. This repeats the success of Alan Costley, who topped the "most read" charts with a ground-breaking 2015 paper showing that tokamaks did not have to be huge to be power-generating.
The paper indicates how multiple engineering challenges will have to be overcome to turn theory into reality to construct a compact fusion power plant. For example, high-temperature superconductors (HTS) can provide compact, high-field magnets, and significant progress is being made with their development at Tokamak Energy and elsewhere. Tokamak Energy's proven design of HTS magnets is uniquely suitable for spherical tokamaks. The results of this latest physics study and the novel magnet technology offer the tantalising possibility of a compact, high-performance fusion module in a relatively short time scale.
Established in 2009, Tokamak Energy is a private company working to develop compact fusion power.
Tokamak Energy's approach is to combine the new technology of high field-strength, high temperature superconducting magnets with the efficiency advantages of the spherical tokamak design, as pioneered at Culham and Princeton Laboratories.