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An interpretive overview of the United States magnetic fusion program

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1 Author(s)
J. F. Clarke ; Office of Energy Research, Washington, DC

The scientific and technological base for the production of fusion energy from a magnetically confined plasma has developed rapidly in the last ten years. Theoretical understanding of plasma phenomena based on sophisticated experiments analyzed by modern diagnostic instruments and powerful computers has led to an improved predictive capability. Historically independent magnetic confinement concepts have been found to be related and mutually supportive variations of basic scientific themes. Fusion reactor level plasma parameters have been achieved and present scaling laws appear to assure the demonstration of scientific feasibility by the Tokamak Fusion Test Reactor device. The focus of the scientific program has begun to change from establishing scientific feasibility to finding the optimum magnetic confinement system. The individual technologies required for a magnetically confined fusion reactor have been found to be overwhelmingly generic. Individual test stands are under construction and the next ten years will be devoted to the further development and integration of this technology for application to the optimum confinement concept. There is general agreement on the goals and strategy of the program in scientific and Government circles and the goal of establishing the engineering, as well as the scientific, feasibility of fusion within this century appears to be achievable.

Published in:

Proceedings of the IEEE  (Volume:69 ,  Issue: 8 )