Science News

Curated by RSF Research Staff

New Feedback System Could Allow Greater Control Over Fusion Plasma

Fusion plasma research has been focused on improvements in sustaining a nuclear fusion reaction. Currently this is done by confining the hot plasma with a magnetic field in the shape of a donut – the tokamak – and with an added twist - the stellarator.

A key in making such improvements is to understand the dynamics and characteristics of the rotating plasma and its resulting profile and evolution. For example, if the plasma experiences differential rotation – that is different regions rotating at different speeds - a shear force is created which acts in such a way as to reduce instabilities and keep the plasma more stable.

By controlling the plasma rotation, a team of scientists, led by Dr Imène Goumiri of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, believe they can now maintain a stable plasma for longer. Using a feedback system algorithm, they can read data about the plasma and feed information back in – by adjusting the control parameters accordingly - thus keeping the plasma stable.

This research is still in its early stages – but if positive results are yielded when this feedback feedforward control system is tested experimentally – it could have huge implications for fusion research.


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