Colloquium

  • History of Fusion Energy Development and Future Perspectives

  • Speaker : Hyeon K. Park (박현거)
    Affiliation : Physics Department, UNIST
    Date : February 28, 2018 4:00 PM
    Place : Building 110 Room N103
    Contact : jjeong@unist.ac.kr
    Host : Joonwoo Jeong
  • Abstract

  • Fusion energy is known to mankind as the ultimate sustainable energy source and we will be free for energy problem, when the controllability is demonstrated through the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) project. Necessity of sustainable large-scale energy is ever demanding, as replacement of the fossil fuel is eminent due to the global warming that has started impacting our everyday life. Developing effort of renewable energy and improved safety of the fission power plant must be continued until the fusion energy is realized. Perception of the fusion concept was not easy from the beginning and the first paper on fusion reaction as the energy source of the star was greeted with mocks from eminent physicists (Rutherford, Jeans, etc.) in 1920’s. Then research effort on controlled fusion energy was accelerated by successful demonstration of H-bomb (Feynman, Salam, Neumann, Teller, etc.) in 1950’s. Here, The first example is the Teller’s proposition of successive explosion of miniature H-bomb using DT pellets with a high-power EM force. Soon after, variety of fruitful and infertile fusion concepts have been developed and concept of confining high temperature plasmas in a magnetic field became the path for success. The first successful demonstration was achieved on the “T3 tokamak” invented by former Soviet Union scientists (Tamm, Sakharov, etc.). Here, a team of British scientists (Robinson, etc.) confirmed the plasma temperature of ~1keV (~10,000,000F0). Other concepts like magnetic mirror (Fermi), Stellarator (Spitzer) were followed. Then, scientists faced instabilities hampering further improvement in confinement. This led to the birth of modern plasma physics of the macroscopic MagnetoHydroDynamic (MHD) and microscopic (turbulence) plasma dynamics. Through three large tokamak era (TFTR by USA, JET by EU and JT60U by Japan) in 1990’s, scientific breakeven (output-power/input-power (Q)~1.0) was demonstrated. Soon after, international effort on developing ITER was proposed at Reagan/ Gorbachev summit meeting (1985) but the project was stalled by political reason for a long time. In 2000’s, finally ITER project aiming Q~30 was launched by seven countries (EU, JP, US, CN, RU, IN, and KO) and construction is full steam ahead at southern France. The first plasma is expected in 2025 and full DT experiment for Q~30 is scheduled in 2035. ITER has two important missions to prove for self-sustained burning plasmas; -particle confinement physics and Tritium reproduction technology. Meantime, the fusion plasma research has shifted to Asia. New magnetic fusion devices with superconducting magnets such as KSTAR, EAST, SST-1, and JT-60SA have been built and fusion research once dominated by the western countries becomes very active in Asia. As the ITER project is moving forward, the next step for fusion reactor program (DEMO) is envisioned and each country is developing its own DEMO program. Korean fusion energy program consists of KSTAR, ITER and K-DEMO programs. The KSTAR, the best engineered device ever, is the basis for steady state fusion plasma physics and human resource development. Fusion research experience on KSTAR combined with the fusion reactor licensing technology from ITER participation will be the basis of the K-DEMO program in Korea. Considering almost no experience on fusion device prior to KSTAR, it is not surprising that the Korean engineers who built the KSTAR are leading the ITER construction. Likewise, young scientists trained on KSTAR are anticipated to be the leaders of ITER operation as the engineers who are building the ITER will participate in K-DEMO program.