By Vena Carter
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Additional info for Advanced Nuclear Physics
This was essentially a spheromak with an inserted central rod. START produced impressive results, with β values at approximately 40% - three times that produced by standard tokamaks at the time. The concept has been scaled up to higher plasma currents and larger sizes, with the experiments NSTX (US), MAST (UK) and Globus-M (Russia) currently running. Spherical tokamaks are not limited by the same instabilities as tokamaks and as such the area is receiving considerable experimental attention. Some more novel configurations produced in toroidal machines are the reversed field pinch and the Levitated Dipole Experiment.
It has been accompanied by extreme scientific and technological difficulties, but has resulted in progress. At present, break-even (self-sustaining) controlled fusion reactions have not been demonstrated in the few tokamak-type reactors around the world. Workable designs for a reactor which will theoretically deliver ten times more fusion energy than the amount needed to heat up plasma to required temperatures (see ITER) is scheduled to be operational in 2018. It takes considerable energy to force nuclei to fuse, even those of the lightest element, hydrogen.
Cryogenic targets filled with a deuterium tritium (D- T) mixture are "self-smoothing" due to the small amount of heat created by the decay of the radioactive tritium isotope. This is often referred to as "beta- layering". Mockup of a gold plated NIF hohlraum. An inertial confinement fusion fuel microcapsule (sometimes called a "microba llon") of the size to be used on the NIF which can be filled with either deuterium and tritium gas or DT ice. The capsule can be either inserted in a hohlraum (as above) and imploded in the indirect drive mode or irradiated directly with laser energy in the direct drive configuration.
Advanced Nuclear Physics by Vena Carter