Fusion scientists from Oak Ridge National Laboratory, as part of the DIII-D National Fusion Facility team at General Atomics, are studying an approach to insulate the reactor’s innermost wall that surrounds the burning plasma from the energy created when hydrogen isotopes are heated to millions of degrees.
The national team created a buffer that traps neutral gas between the plasma’s edge, which is cooler than the core but still hotter than the sun, and the interior wall at points where hot ions and atomic particles might make contact. “The trapped, relatively cool particles help maintain the delicate balance of keeping the plasma’s core hot enough to produce practical fusion energy and the plasma exhaust cool enough to protect the interior, or first, wall from damaging heat,” said ORNL’s Aaron Sontag, lead author on a paper published in Nuclear Fusion. “This technique reduces downtime for maintenance and contributes to overarching fusion reactor technology development.”
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