Emerging Technologies


Nuclear Fusion

Session background and objectives

Nuclear fusion has been a subject of research as the energy of future for a long time and important technologies have been developed under ITER program, which aims to consruct their test reactor in 2020’s. At the same time, various private companies and national projects are already competing towards commercialization of economically viable nuclear fusion power plants beyond ITER program. With this in the background, in this session, the participants will discuss the overview of nuclear fusion R&D and possible strategy for commercialization, while discussing challenges in R&D and many different approaches of fusion reactors.


Yasushi Ono [Chair]

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Professor, Department of Advanced Energy, Department of Advanced Energy, Graduate School of Frontier Sciences, University of Tokyo


Innovative Approaches to Economical DEMO reactors

Nuclear fusion energy has been developed mainly by large-scale tokamak programs for future safe and limitless energy. The International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) program will start its operation in 2025, demonstrating controlled large fusion gain and essential fusion reactor technologies. Development of the next stage experiment: DEMO needs innovations for economical fusion reactor. Various national projects and private companies are conducting R&D towards commercialization of economically viable nuclear fusion power plants beyond ITER program. In this session, we will present three innovative approaches to economical DEMO reactors and possible strategies for commercialization of fusion reactors.

Masayuki Ono

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NSTX-U Department Head, PPPL, Princeton University


Spherical Tokamak for Economical Fusion Energy Development*

Fusion energy offers the prospect of safe and limitless energy source while addressing approaching environmental issues. The spherical tokamak (ST) is being pursued due to its prospect of producing significant fusion power in a compact and economical facility. More than sixteen ST research facilities operating worldwide have achieved remarkable advances in all areas of fusion research. These results suggest exciting future prospects for ST for both near term and longer term applications, including a compact fusion neutron source for nuclear waste remedial, in addition to the longer term goal of attractive fusion energy power sources on earth and in space.

*This work supported by DoE Contract No. DE-AC02-09CH11466

Antony Ford

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Consultant, Japan, Tokamak Energy Ltd


Merging/ Reconnection Heating for Direct Access to Fusion Reaction*

A key for DEMO reactors is to upgrade conventional tokamaks to cost-effective designs by increasing the beta-value: the ratio of its thermal pressure (fusion output) to its magnetic pressure (cost). The axial merging/ reconnection is a low-cost and attractive high-power heating (increase in beta) method for all torus plasmas. In MAST and TS-3, merging spherical tokamaks/ spheromaks increased their ion temperatures Ti to 1.2keV and 0.25keV, respectively. The reconnection heating whose energy scales with square of the reconnecting magnetic field, is expected to realize direct access to D-T burning: Ti>10keV, leading us to new T-order merging experiments: ST-40 in Tokamak Energy Ltd and TS-U in Univ. Tokyo, based on academic-industrial alliance and will accelerate the development of fusion energy.

Sergei Putvinski


Chief Scientist, Tri Alpha Energy


R&D of Advanced Field Reverse Configuration at Trialpha Energy

Alternative to DT fusion fuels such as pB11 could provide truly clean and abundant energy source. Privately funded US company, Trialpha Energy Inc., is developing fusion energy generator based on high beta, Field Reversed Configuration (FRC) for magnetic plasma confinement. For the first time a steady state operation of FRC driven by injection of neutral beams has been achieved on C2U experimental device set to operation in 2015. This achievement has removed a significant obstacle for practical application of FRC for control nuclear fusion. The following steps in Trialpha Energy program for harnessing fusion based on alternative fuel cycles shall be discussed.


1. The challenges and opportunities of Nuclear Fusion R&D

  • What are the risks and challenges in conducting R&D for nuclear fusion?
  • What are the possible pathways to successful commercialization of nuclear fusion power plant?
  • What is the upper limit of plasma beta (plasma pressure/ magnetic pressure ~ fusion output/ cost)?

2. Answering to diversified consumer needs

  • How can different approaches of R&D influence and stimulate with each other?
  • How can the government-led R&D and the private sector R&D complement with each other?
  • How can the new steams change the DEMO reactors?

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