Technological challenges for Fusion energy production

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Presentation given at the 54th NCSR-Demokritos Summer School, July 2019


Fusion offers the long-term potential for generating abundant, clean and safe energy. A global endeavour is being made towards the realization of fusion energy production driven by the need for largescale sustainable and predictable low-carbon electricity generation. However, in the roadmap towards commercially viable fusion electricity there are many technological challenges the scientific community needs to overcome in the field of plasma production, heating and magnetic confinement, heat exhaust, diagnostics, fuel breeding, and mainly materials that have withstand intense neutron and ion radiation fields as well as high temperatures. Specifically, plasmas must be confined at temperatures 20 times higher than the temperature of the core of the sun. This requires the minimisation of energy losses due to turbulence and the control of plasma instabilities, and the correct choice of magnetic confinement configurations. In addition, the power necessary to maintain plasmas at high temperatures has to be exhausted. This is done via the main chamber wall and a region called the divertor. Plasma facing materials and exhaust systems have to be developed and qualified. Fuel self-sufficiency is mandatory and requires efficient breeding and extraction systems to minimise the fuel inventory. Furthermore, neutron tolerant materials that can withstand the flux of neutrons up to 14 MeV and maintain adequate structural and other physical properties for long periods need to be developed for commercial fusion power plants. The development of suitable structural and high-heat flux materials that also exhibit reduced activation so as to avoid permanent waste repositories and allow recycling is also among the main requirements. The above mentioned issues are discussed and the relevant research activities carried out at NCSR Demokritos will be presented.

View the lecture online or download the slides from the links. (Language: Greek)