ITER (Latin for "the way") is a critical step between today’s studies of plasma physics and tomorrow’s fusion power plants producing electricity and hydrogen. An unprecedented international collaboration of scientists and engineers led to the design of this advanced physics experiment. The ITER Members are China, the European Union, India, Japan, Russia, South Korea, and the United States. ITER construction is underway in southeastern France (St. Paul lez Durance), and components fabricated by the Members are being delivered to the construction site. Experimental operations are planned to begin in approximately 10 years and are expected to continue for 20 years, demonstrating production of at least 10 times the power used to heat the fusion fuel and providing a platform to validate proposed commercial-grade technologies needed for power production. For more information, please visit the websites of the U.S. ITER Project Office and the International ITER Organization.
The DIII-D tokamak operated by General Atomics in San Diego, CA is the largest magnetic fusion facility in the United States. DIII-D provides for considerable experimental flexibility and has extensive diagnostic instrumentation to measure the properties of high temperature plasmas. It also has unique capabilities to shape the plasma and provide feedback control of error fields that, in turn, affect particle transport and the stability of the plasma. In addition, DIII-D has been a major contributor to the world fusion program over the past decade in the areas of plasma turbulence, energy transport, boundary layer physics, and electron-cyclotron plasma heating and current drive. For more information, please click here.
NSTX (the National Spherical Torus Experiment) is an innovative magnetic fusion user facility that was constructed by the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) in collaboration with the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Columbia University, and the University of Washington at Seattle. It produces a plasma that is shaped like a sphere with a hole through its center, different from the "donut" shaped plasmas of conventional tokamaks. A major advantage of the spherical torus configuration is the ability to confine a plasma with a pressure that is high compared to the pressure of the magnetic field that confines it. This configuration also has very strong magnetic curvature, which gives it different confinement and stability properties from conventional tokamaks. Research on the ST configuration could lead to the development of smaller, more economical future fusion research facilities. NSTX is currently being upgraded to have a higher magnetic field, higher plasma current, and greater neutral beam heating power and, after completion, will be renamed NSTX Upgrade (NSTX-U). For more information, please visit the NSTX website.
Alcator C-Mod at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is the only tokamak in the world operating at and above the ITER design magnetic field and plasma densities, and it produces the highest pressure tokamak plasma in the world, approaching pressures expected in ITER. It is also unique in the use of all-metal walls to accommodate high power densities. Because of these characteristics, C-Mod is particularly well suited to examine plasma regimes that are highly relevant to ITER. The facility has made significant contributions to the world fusion program in the areas of plasma heating and current drive, stability, and confinement in high field tokamaks. For more information, please click here.
Other FES Facilities:
The Basic Plasma Science Facility (BaPSF) at UCLA is a place to perform frontier-level experiments that require physical conditions not suitable for small devices. The facility provides an environment in which teams with complementary expertise can come together to attack problems that they would not pursue individually. The operational procedures foster the exchange of technical information across diverse areas of research (e.g., fusion studies, space investigations, laser-plasma interactions, plasma applications) in which the basic properties of plasmas play an essential role. The upgraded Large Plasma Device (LAPD) that forms the core of the facility commenced operation in the summer of 2001. In addition to providing access to this device, users are provided access to the substantial and modern research equipment (oscilloscopes, computers, lasers, RF generators, data collection system, etc.) of the facility. The plasma device is operated round-the-clock providing research-grade plasmas at a 1 Hz repetition rate, and having a wide range of possible parameter choices under the user's control.
The Madison Symmetric Torus (MST) experiment, located at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, is a world leader in reversed field pinch (RFP) research. The RFP is a magnetic configuration that relaxes to a minimum energy state characterized by magnetic fields in one direction in the inner region, and reverses in the opposite direction in the outer region of the plasma. MST is one of two large RFP experiments in the world. It is the only operating RFP facility in the United States. Record values for RFP plasma temperature, energy confinement, and beta have been achieved in MST. The MST program focuses on increasing fundamental understanding of the RFP configuration, expanding validated predictive capability of toroidal magnetic confinement, and advancing discovery science and links to plasma astrophysics.