PX438-7.5 Physics for Fusion Power
This module discusses the physics of thermonuclear fusion, which is a candidate solution for the energy demands of our society. Nuclear fusion is promising due to the unlimited amount of fuel, the fact that it is CO2 neutral, the limited amount of long-lived radioactive waste, and the inherent safety of the approach. As a 'minor' drawback, one could mention that a working concept for this approach still needs to be demonstrated!
For reasons we will discuss, the construction of a working fusion reactor is hindered by several, in themselves rather interesting, physics phenomena. The module discusses the two main approaches: inertial confinement and magnetic confinement, with the emphasis on the latter since it is further developed. The module will deal with both the physics phenomena as well as with the boundary conditions that must be satisfied for a working reactor. At the end of the module you should have an understanding of the concepts in the field and the reasons behind the choices made in the current experimental designs.
To discuss aspects of nuclear fusion and advanced plasma physics relevant to the construction of fusion power stations
This is an indicative module outline only to give an indication of the sort of topics that may be covered. Actual sessions held may differ.
The fusion process in stellar interiors
The density/temperature/confinement time triple product for energy breakeven in a fusion reactor
Magnetic confinement fusion: equilibrium: flux surfaces, toroidal geometry; stability: the energy principle, current limits, beta limits; heating: Ohmic heating limitations, neutral beams and radio waves; collisional and turbulent transport of particles and energy
Inertial confinement fusion: Rayleigh-Taylor instability and implications for implosion symmetry; direct and indirect drive; parametric instabilities and laser reflectivity
Environmental and socio-economic aspects of fusion power
By the end of the module, students should be able to:
- Explain how plasma physics defines the design parameters of fusion power plants
- Explain the physics of fusion power plasma heating, confinement and stability
- Start postgraduate research in either fusion or plasma physics
Indicative reading list
K. Miyamoto, Controlled Fusion and Plasma Physics, Taylor & Francis Ltd (2006); R. J. Goldston and P. H. Rutherford, Introduction to Plasma Physics, IoP (1995)
Subject specific skills
Knowledge of mathematics and physics. Skills in modelling, reasoning, thinking.
Analytical, communication, problem-solving, self-study
|Lectures||15 sessions of 1 hour (20%)|
|Private study||60 hours (80%)|
Private study description
Working through lecture notes, solving problems, wider reading, discussing with others taking the module, revising for exam, practising on past exam papers
No further costs have been identified for this module.
You must pass all assessment components to pass the module.
Assessment group B1
|2 hour online examination (Summer)||100%|
Answer 2 questions from 3
Feedback on assessment
Personal tutor, group feedback
This module is Optional for:
- Year 4 of UPXA-F304 Undergraduate Physics (BSc MPhys)
- Year 4 of UPXA-F303 Undergraduate Physics (MPhys)
This module is Option list B for:
- Year 4 of UPXA-FG33 Undergraduate Mathematics and Physics (BSc MMathPhys)
- Year 4 of UPXA-FG31 Undergraduate Mathematics and Physics (MMathPhys)