National Academies Press: OpenBook
Suggested Citation:"RECOMMENDATIONS." National Research Council. 1995. Plasma Science: From Fundamental Research to Technological Applications. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/4936.
Suggested Citation:"RECOMMENDATIONS." National Research Council. 1995. Plasma Science: From Fundamental Research to Technological Applications. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/4936.

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MAGNETIC CONFINEMENT FUSION 90 related to burning plasmas, nuclear technology, reactor relevant materials, and so on. At the same time, other funding agencies, such as the National Science Foundation (NSF) and other offices in DOE, have not funded scientific investigations in high-temperature plasmas. If this trend continues, a serious void in the continued growth of high-temperature plasma science will result, despite its scientific merits. The international fusion community is now engaged in the design of a major fusion facility, the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor. This facility will investigate the behavior of burning plasmas under conditions of intense self-heating by alpha particles, and it will demonstrate integration of the nuclear technologies required for a fusion reactor. In addition, the U.S. program has proposed construction of a national facility, the Tokamak Physics Experiment, to investigate modes of continuous operation under advanced performance conditions. The TPX, which is illustrated schematically in Figure 4.4, is planned to begin operation by the end of this decade, when it would become the "work-horse" for research in high-temperature plasma science in the United States. RECOMMENDATIONS For the continued development of plasma physics as a scientific discipline it is essential that there be a continued experimental capability to investigate high-temperature plasma phenomena. It is clear that a commitment to increased high-temperature plasma research and training of scientific manpower should be made now. With appropriate funding, the number of graduate students working toward a PhD in plasma-related fields is sufficient to meet such a commitment. The mainstay of this kind of research will remain the DOE Office of Fusion Energy (OFE). However, increased support for energy-relevant basic plasma science by the Office of Basic Energy Sciences (BES) at DOE, in cooperation with the OFE, which is recommended in Part I, would greatly benefit all energy-relevant plasma science and technology. This program could help fund specific experiments on large machines, as well as the operation of small and medium-sized experiments. Funding at the level of several hundred thousand dollars per year per investigator would be of considerable value to university and industry efforts, even for participation in a large experiment. Initial investment in equipment at the level of a few hundred thousand dollars would also be of additional value. Diagnostic-type experiments could be carried out "piggyback" style at existing facilities. Many plasma physics problems are best addressed in small- and medium- scale devices. Such devices can be used to test innovative confinement concepts, and the panel sees a need for two to three devices in the United States. In addition, somewhat larger-scale facilities would be desirable to continue basic research in high-temperature (a few keV) plasmas. Such devices might in some

MAGNETIC CONFINEMENT FUSION 91 cases function as user facilities, supported by a consortium of institutions and funding agencies. The panel envisions at least two such devices operating as user facilities. These facilities may be converted from currently operating and/ or mothballed devices, most likely tokamaks. Appropriate nonohmic heating and current drive capability should be available on such a device. FIGURE 4.4 Schematic diagram of the advanced superconducting Tokamak Physics Experiment (TPX), proposed as a national facility to develop the scientific basis for a compact and continuously operating tokamak fusion reactor. Operating at a toroidal magnetic field of 40 kG and plasma currents of 2 MA, the TPX would investigate modes of enhanced plasma confinement and non-inductive current drive for plasmas lasting longer than 1000 s. (Courtesy of Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory.) Finally, it is also important to maintain a strong parallel program in theory and modeling, for it is the interaction between experiment and theory that facilitates the greatest progress in plasma science. In any case, it is clear that a commitment to continued support of research in high-temperature plasma science should be made now.

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Plasma science is the study of ionized states of matter. This book discusses the field's potential contributions to society and recommends actions that would optimize those contributions. It includes an assessment of the field's scientific and technological status as well as a discussion of broad themes such as fundamental plasma experiments, theoretical and computational plasma research, and plasma science education.

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