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Fusion Nuclear Science

Fusion Energy

Fusion research at ORNL encompasses many varied activities:

Plasma Material Interactions

The interaction between (fusion grade) plasma and the material surface at the edge of machines defines the boundary conditions of the device. These interactions serve to define both the parameters of edge plasma (and the device performance towards achieving fusion) and the longevity of the material surface (e.g. due to erosion and power handling limitations).

  • This is being studied experimentally in the Physics Integration eXperiment (PhIX).
  • Simulation and Modeling of PMI through the use of edge-neutrals codes, e.g. SOL-PS.

Collaboration at Plasma Experiments

Researchers participate in ongoing (and developing) plasma experiments worldwide through collaborations which aim to uncover fundamental physics of fusion grade devices.

  • Domestic Experiments:  DIII-D Tokamak (General Atomics), Lithium Tokamak Experiment (PPPL), National Spherical Torus eXperiment-Upgrade (PPPL), Pegasus (UW-Madison)
  • International Experiments:  ASDEX-Upgrade (Germany), EAST (China),  Joint European Torus (CCFE, UK), KSTAR (Korea), Large Helical Device (Japan), Tore Supra (CEA, France)
  • Developing Facilities:  International Tokamak Experimental Reactor (ITER, France), Wendelstein-7X (IPP, Germany)
  • MAST-U (CCFE, UK) 

Enabling Technologies for Plasma and Fusion

A chorus of technologies are necessary for the successful development of fusion energy and for plasma experimentation:

  • Cryogenic Pellet Injection for fueling and machine protection (disruption mitigation)
  • Radio Frequency auxiliary heating schemes for plasmas
  • Diagnostic Development for understanding and control
  • Remote Handling capabilities in irradiated environments

Theory and Modeling of Plasmas

The fundamental physics of high- and low-temperature plasmas is derived from "first principles" arguments by researchers, while simulation and modeling play an integral role in understanding complex phenomena observed in fusion experiments.