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Controlled Thermonuclear Fusion: Clean, Safe Energy for the Future

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In July 2005 Cadarache in France was chosen to be the site for ITER, the world's largest machine dedicated to research into the production of energy from controlled thermonuclear fusion. ITER is designed to demonstrate that safe, clean electricity can be produced economically. When ITER begins to operate in about ten years it will aim to demonstrate that fusion can fulfil the energy requirements of the modern world without concomitant greenhouse gas production or the need for disposal of long-lived radioactive wastes.

 


The flux-tube domain of GS2 follows the magnetic field and forms a small sub-region of the plasma

 


Photograph of a spherical tokamak plasma from the MAST experiment at Culham.

 

UKAEA carries out fusion research for the UK Government and EURATOM (ref) at the Culham Science Centre in Abingdon, where research in experimental and theoretical physics and in engineering tasks in support of ITER are undertaken. The group's effort is devoted to the problem of understanding electromagnetic turbulence in plasmas, and its undesirable effects on enhancing energy losses (called 'anomalous transport') of the plasma far above those due to collisional processes.

Global tokamak turbulence calculations present truly 'grand challenges' to the most powerful computers in the world such as HPCx and the Earth simulator in Japan. A whole range of linear and non-linear instabilities are involved. The problems are similar in complexity to those encountered in geophysical fluid dynamics/climatology, both in the enormous range of length and time-scales involved and the number of dynamical degrees of freedom modelled. The scientists in the Culham Science Centre are, in effect, attempting to 'arithmetise' plasma climatology in a tokamak with a supercomputer.

P J Knight, C M Roach, A Thyagaraja, D J Applegate, N Joiner, UKAEA Fusion, Culham Science Centre

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