News & CommentPhysics

Turbulence May Sink Titanic Reactor

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Science  06 Dec 1996:
Vol. 274, Issue 5293, pp. 1600
DOI: 10.1126/science.274.5293.1600


Denver—The $10 billion International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor is meant to demonstrate that fusion is a practical energy source. If all goes as planned, the reactor will cage million-degree ions for long enough to fuse and generate copious amounts of power—enough to ignite a self-sustaining fusion burn. But a physics-based theory says that turbulence could turn that flame into a fizzle, cooling the plasma and drastically reducing its power output.