Project Innovation + Advantages:
The University of Washington (UW) will develop a new approach to generate edge transport barriers (ETBs), a way to confine and retain plasma heat. Many low-cost magnetized target fusion concepts rely on plasmas having sufficient energy confinement to reach the necessary densities and temperatures required for the large-scale production of fusion power. ETBs enable higher performance (better energy confinement), and more compact fusion plasmas for mainline fusion experiments. Unfortunately, state-of-the-art ETB generation is thought to be impractical for smaller and/or pulsed plasma experiments because it requires complex external magnetic fields, current profile shaping, and heating. The University of Washington team has recently discovered a new, simpler, approach to ETB generation that may be as effective as the state-of-the art approaches. Their method is to drive the current at the edge of a plasma while applying magnetic perturbations, thus injecting a corkscrew-like motion into the plasma, producing edge velocity shear that creates an ETB. If successful, this approach would allow ETBs to be used in smaller plasma systems, an important step on the pathway to fusion energy.