PPPL June 13, 2017
For fusion to generate substantial energy, the ultra-hot plasma that fuels fusion reactions must remain stable and kept from cooling. Researchers have recently shown lithium, a soft, silver-white metal, to be effective in both respects during path-setting U.S.-Chinese experiments on the Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) in Hefei, China. Leading the U.S. collaboration is the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL), together with co-principal investigators Los Alamos and Oak Ridge National Laboratories, with Johns Hopkins University, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Scientists from General Atomics also participate via a separate grant.
Seven U.S. researchers traveled to EAST in December, 2016, to participate in the experiments. They deployed lithium in the Chinese tokamak in three different ways: through a lithium powder injector, a lithium granule injector, and a flowing liquid lithium limiter (FLiLi) that delivered the element in liquid form to the edge of EAST plasmas.
The research showed excellent progress in all three areas. The form of the experiments and their results included:
The DOE Office of Science (FES) supported U.S. collaboration on these experiments on EAST, which is hosted at the Institute for Plasma Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences. The experiments were enabled by strong collaboration between the U.S. participants and Chinese colleagues, in particular Professors J.S. Hu, S. Zhen, and G. Zuo. The Chinese participants were supported by the National Magnetic Fusion Science Program, the National Nature Science Foundation, and the A3 Foresight Program in the field of Plasma Physics.
For further information, contact lead physicist Rajesh Maingi, firstname.lastname@example.org (link sends e-mail).
PPPL, on Princeton University’s Forrestal Campus in Plainsboro, N.J., is devoted to creating new knowledge about the physics of plasmas — a form of matter composed of atoms and charged atomic particles — and to developing practical solutions for the creation of fusion energy. The Laboratory is managed by the University for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science, which is the largest single supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time.