September 9, 2016
Dr. Cherry Murray, Director of the Department of Energy’s Office of Science, visited the Plasma Science and Fusion Center (PSFC) on September 8. Murray, who’s office oversees the U.S. fusion energy research program, toured MIT’s Alcator C-Mod fusion experiment, led by the Center’s director, Nuclear Science and Engineering (NSE) professor Dennis Whyte.
Deputy director Martin Greenwald, NSE professor Anne White, postdoctoral fellow Bob Mumgaard and division head Joe Minervini joined him to discuss the significant contributions the PSFC has made to international fusion progress and to MIT graduate education. They also reviewed the high-field magnet technology that has made the series of Alcator tokamaks built at MIT since the 1970s unique. The tokamak employs high magnetic fields to confine hot, turbulent plasma long enough to create fusion energy. Mentioning the Center’s origins in MIT’s Francis Bitter National Magnet Laboratory, deputy director Greenwald noted, “Fusion research at high magnetic field is in the Center’s DNA.”
As the Alcator C-Mod experiment prepares to conclude this month, the PSFC is exploring a new magnet technology: a thin superconducting tape they believe could provide a faster and more economical path to fusion power through a machine significantly more compact than those currently in use or under construction.
Topics: Magnetic fusion energy