Description: At this juncture fusion research can be viewed as being at a turning point, a time to review its past and to imagine its future. Today, almost 50 years since the first serious attempts to address the daunting problem of achieving controlled fusion, we have both an opportunity and a challenge. Some predictions place fusion research today at a point midway between its first inception and its eventual maturation - in the middle of the 21st century - when fusion would become a major source of energy. Our opportunity therefore is to assess what we have learned from 50 years of hard work and use that knowledge as a starting point for new and better approaches to solving the fusion problem. Our challenge is to prove the "50 more years" prophesy wrong, by finding ways to shorten the time when fusion power becomes a reality. The thesis will be advanced that in the magnetic confinement approach to fusion open-ended magnetic confinement geometries offer much in responding to the challenge. A major advantage of open systems is that, owing to their theoretically and experimentally demonstrated ability to suppress plasma instabilities of both the MHD and the high-frequency wave-particle variety, the confinement becomes predictable from "classical," i.e., Fokker-Planck-type analysis. In a time of straitened budgetary circumstances for magnetic fusion research now being faced in the United States, the theoretical tractability of mirror-based systems is a substantial asset. In pursuing this avenue it is also necessary to keep an open mind as to the forms that mirror-based fusion power plants might take. For example, one can look to the high-energy physics community for a possible model: This community has shown the feasibility of constructing large and complex particle accelerators using superconducting magnets, vacuum chambers and complicated particle-handling technology, housed in underground tunnels that ...
Date: October 14, 1998
Creator: Post, R F
Item Type: Refine your search to only Article
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