MIT's Tokamak Gets Resurrected

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MIT's Tokamak Gets Resurrected

Post by Paul_Schatzkin » Mon Jun 09, 2014 12:37 pm

I have a daily Google alert for the keywords "Nuclear Fusion." Most of what comes across gets filed under the general heading of "same old story."

This morning I read this item: ... story.html

Which appears under the headline:

MIT at center of political power play
The school’s prized fusion reactor was dead; its federal funding axed. Then its political allies went to work.

At the risk of stirring up a political flame-war, I'll just say that I am enamored of Elizabeth Warren and most of what she has to say about banking and the financial system, but it's pretty clear she's out of her depth when she says things like...

"It’s ground-breaking research that could lead an energy revolution,” Warren said. “This was not about politics. This was about good science.”

The sad illogic of which emerges about two sentences later with...

"A fading poster titled “Fusion, Physics of a Fundamental Energy Source” takes up nearly an entire wall of MIT’s Plasma Science & Fusion Department’s second-floor lobby. It reads: “If fusion power plants become practical, they would provide a virtually inexhaustible energy supply . . . substantial progress toward this goal has been made.

The poster was printed in 1996. The goal has remained elusive."

Two more years and that poster will be a reminder of Richard Hull's slogan that "fusion is 20 years in the future and always will be."

Sorry, Elizabeth, but the administration was probably right to shut this one down. Expect for the part where they want to divert the funds to ITER....

Paul Schatzkin, aka "The Perfesser" – Founder and Host of
Author of The Boy Who Invented Television -
"Fusion is not 20 years in the future; it is 50 years in the past and we missed it."

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Re: MIT's Tokamak Gets Resurrected

Post by Chris Bradley » Thu Jun 12, 2014 5:15 pm

I believe the news item is rather old-hat, as I think C-Mod started back up in Feb. Barely a pause in operation!

Actually, I quite like what they have done with the Alcator series of experiments, and I think they have some more engaging ideas than other groups, which in part is perhaps because of the limited budget that limits them to a, relatively, 'small-scale' experiment. As we well-know here, one way to get the innovation juices flowing is to limit resources rather than have a huge budget that causes you to stop thinking doing anything in a 'more novel' way.

They have a, proportionately speaking, very large ICRH antenna system in their current C-Mod, which in my opinion is responsible for [near field] electric radial fields that help confine the outer edge of the plasma. (The Faraday shield is meant to mitigate radial fields, but it does not entirely prevent them, and C-Mod is the only experiment I've seen where they have actually removed the Faraday shields to see what happens.) In this regard, if this is a mechanism that actually happens, there is a convergence between my device and tokamaks. In fact, if radial electric fields prove to be one of the elements to confine tokamak plasmas - and so far they have indeed generally been a characteristic of 'high mode' plasmas - then I have that patented! This is one of the specific areas of their research, so anything they do that goes towards demonstrating the viability of my own patent can only be a good thing in my eyes!! :)

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