Fusion Energy Prospects

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Zander Keith – Moderator
Zander is a research intern in the HSX (Helically Symmetric eXperiment) Lab at UW-Madison. His work involves developing data analysis codes to calculate plasma densities and temperatures using Thomson scattering. Zander graduated from UW-Madison with degrees in Computer Engineering and Computer Science in 2021.
As moderator, Zander will lead discussion to cover the following topics:
Why Fusion?
– The role of fusion power plants in a modern, sustainable electric grid
– How fusion works, and what challenges there are to overcome
Recent advancements in fusion technology
– Improvements in theory, computation, and materials
– Contributions made by scientists in Wisconsin
What to look for in the near future
– New and exciting experiments on the horizon
– How local people can help advocate for fusion technology
Dionysi Damaskopoulos
Dionysi joined the HSX Lab and started his Electrical Engineering PhD in Fall 2021. His passion to pursue fusion power pulled him away from the deployment of autonomous vehicles and he is now starting research on neutral density measurements with H-alpha detectors. He completed his undergraduate degrees in electrical and mechanical engineering with a minor in physics from Colorado School of Mines.
Topic: The Economics of fusion
Fusion power has the potential to provide safe, clean, and abundant energy for millennia, however there are many considerations as to how the technology will be funded and deployed. These topics include what market fusion will target and how fusion will work with renewable energy sources in a modern electric grid.
Luquant Singh
Luquant is a PhD candidate in Electrical and Computer engineering at UW-Madison conducting research at the HSX laboratory. His research focuses on measurements of plasma turbulence in the HSX stellarator using microwave diagnostics. Luquant has also been involved with computational research aimed at improving stellarator coil designs. He received his bachelor’s degree in Applied Math, Engineering, and Physics from UW-Madison.
Topic: Stellarator optimization and turbulence studies.
Stellarators are a magnetic confinement scheme with improved stability over tokamaks, however lack of axial symmetry increases heat loss through particle drift. Advancements in theory and computation have allowed stellarator coils to be optimized for better performance.
Kunal Sanwalka
Kunal is a 3rd year graduate student working with Prof. Cary Forest on the WHAM (Wisconsin HTS Axisymmetric Mirror) project. His research includes the overall construction of the WHAM device and working to understand the dynamics of fast particles in the plasma created from neutral beams. Kunal uses simulation software like CQL3D to model the plasma dynamics and has developed some of his own scripts for the design of particle diagnostics.
Topic: Mirrors for simpler and sooner fusion.
WHAM is a magnetic mirror device that hopes to combine recent developments in HTS magnet technology and mirror physics to develop a concept for a fusion power plant based on the magnetic mirror geometry. If successful, a magnetic mirror based fusion power plant is advantageous due to its construction simplicity, scalability, and ease of access.
Dr. Sara E. Ferry
Dr. Ferry received her PhD from Massachusetts institute of Technology in 2018 since then she has worked as a postdoctorial associate and a research scientist at MIT. She is currently a Research Scientist in the Plasma Science and Fusion Center at MIT. She is working on better tritium breeding blankets for fusion power plants that maximize tritium breeding ratio (TBR) and minimize operating costs. She is building the LIBRA blanket and aiming for a world-first demonstration of TBR~1 in FLiBe using fusion neutrons.
As an expert on neutronics and material interactions, Dr. Ferry will speak about materials and expected plant life cycle.
Co-sponsored by: Wisconsin Science Museum
6:00 pm Connect
6:05 pm Introductions and Announcements
6:10 pm Panel Discussion
7:30 pm Questions

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