Images de page

a range of options for private sector investment and commercial development of fusion. Achieving this objective requires industrial participants to

provide expertise in conventional components and to gain experience

with the unique aspects of fusion science and technology.

The necessary

degree of industrial experience is best gained through the technical participation of industrial personnel in the state-of-the-art developments in the program, such as the design and fabrication of components that would be used in the Compact Ignition Tokamak (CIT).

A noteworthy and shorter term aspect of this objective is that

the fusion program serves as a stimulus to United States technological

growth and the further training of scientists and engineers in industry. Meeting the challenges of fusion has advanced a number of technologies important to United States industry. Among these are: supercomputers; high

frequency RF sources, such as the gyrotron, superconducting magnets; ultra

high vacuum technology; materials; and pulsed power technology. Fusion

research has also been the primary contributor to the development of plasma

physics, a discipline that could have an important impact on industrial

competitiveness over the next twenty years. Applications of plasma physics are wide ranging and include x-ray and ultraviolet light sources, free

electron lasers, and even the magnetrons used in a microwave oven. Also, a

promising application of plasma physics is plasma processing. It is used in producing microchips in the semiconductor industry, especially very large scale integrated components, as well as hardening surfaces and special

coatings in other industries. Fusion research has also contributed to major

advances in computational science, many of which have broad applicability as

numerical techniques and simulation codes. These are just some of the

dividends we have received along the way to developing fusion energy. I would like to provide a booklet on Fusion accomplishments for the record.

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][graphic][ocr errors]


Fusion energy is the internal power source of the sun and the stars. Resisting natural forces of separation, lighter elements, such as hydrogen and helium, are forcibly joined together to form the nucleus of a heavier element of slightly less mass than the sum of its original parts. In accord with Einstein's now familiar equation, this small difference in mass is converted into an enormous amount of energy, which we ultimately observe as heat and light from the sun. In the stars, this process is made possible by the extraordinary physical conditions under which matter in the core of a star is compressed to high densities and heated to high temperatures by the nearly unimaginable gravitational weight of the rest of the star. Today, scientists on earth hope to find equivalent conditions with an array of large machines.

potential benefits are enormous. The fuel could be extracted from ordinary sea water in virtually inexhaustible supply. The heat and power produced could provide energy for future generations long after the earth's inventory of conventional fossil fuels had been depleted. In this relatively brief document, some of the more important contributions of the research program needed to establish the scientific and technical base for fusion power production are discussed. The number of contributions has grown steadily and at an increasing pace. I have every confidence that this research program will meet its future challenges.

onditions with an array of

[blocks in formation]

Although a practical fusion energy device is still well in the future, the

Alvin W. Trivelpiece
Director, Office of Energy Research

[blocks in formation]


Today, in major laboratories of the United States, the European Economic Community, Japan, and the Soviet Union, a new energy technology is being developed for world use. The technology is that of magnetic fusion energy, where the word magnetic refers to the technique of holding the fuel in place by means of strong magnetic fields. The starting fuel will be forms of the element hydrogen. The final form or forms of this new energy source are not yet fixed. They will be determined over the next few decades, first by scientific results and Governmental research policy, and later by research and investment decisions in the private sector. The availability of magnetic fusion for use by the Nation's energy producers will depend strongly upon the technology options available and when they become available.

program-has now completed three decades of accomplishment. Over the years, this program has been sponsored by DOE and its predecessors which are responsible for the National energy mission. Its evolution has been a reflection of changes in time, in public priorities, and in legal mandate. But, throughout this evolvement, there has remained a consistency of purpose: to seek a fundamental understanding of the fusion energy processes observed in the sun and stars; to establish the body of theoretical, experimental, and engineering knowledge necessary to use these processes to generate energy. The story of this research program is told through its accomplishments. Several of the more significant accomplishments have been chosen here for illustrative purposes. Following a brief review of the program's origins, evolution, and current mission, the accomplishments are grouped and reviewed in the two broad categories of fusion science and fusion technology. This is followed by a review of international cooperative research activities which are conducted to further advance the program's effectiveness. Explanatory material is woven into the story for the benefit of most readers, who will be unfamiliar with the science and technology of fusion.

The purpose of this brief narrative is to foster an awareness of the publicly funded Magnetic Fusion Energy Research Program and of its progress towards establishing the base of scientific and technical information required for commercial development of fusion energy. This program, administered by the Office of Fusion Energy, is one of many research activities of the Department of Energy (DOE). The

« PrécédentContinuer »